Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Welcome the K'nometer. Its time is come.
(Apologies to Mr Auden and anyone else exhibiting artistic sensibilities) But more of this later.
I rolled up to Lewknor 10 minutes before the off, which is most unlike me, to find the pub car park almost full. Cars were parked fairly randomly so as to maximise the misuse of available space. My first thought was that Ken's Orcs (from the Beaconsfield Arms hive) had got wind of Ken, but I found out later that it was just the locals trying to keep strange folk out. For the record, the weather was clear, dry and briskly cool.
Hawkeye hobbled near, asseverating that Lewknor seemed a nice backwater. I pointed out that this was not always the case, as before the building of the bypass, 20 to 30 cars a day would pass through. As if to disprove the point further, 20 to 30 hashers suddenly appeared, right on cue.
The first thing that they wanted to know was how long the hash options were, and should they bring a sleeping bag. Ken assuaged their concerns with consummate ease, waving his arms around to indicate the number four. The shorts breathed a sigh of relief, even though they knew they were being kenned - sorry, conned. And for those that like it longer, the arms signalled that the long option was moor-ish.
We thought that was the end of the briefing, but the arms carried on signalling.
Didcot rules would apply, as Ken was recycling the run on the Sabbath. 3 blobs before calling on-on and 5 at a check before checking.
We quickly found out that Didcot rules are really designed to ensure an even tan in bright sunny weather. On a cold Tuesday night, they have the opposite effect, as any tendency to run is rewarded with extended shivers at each check. You cannot even chat to keep warm, as you then cannot hear the faintest cry of a checker calling the way (especially when the motorway is close by).
Ken also omitted to tell us that Didcot runners are all left-handed, as that was where the flour was. Took some getting used to.
So, we shivered at the pub until we couldn't hear the call to go towards the ridge (where else could we go, you ask).
We got as far as The Knapp, where we had our first L/S split. One lap around the field and we were together again, and climbing. Anthony reported seeing a receding light in the distance above Hill Farm. We found out later that it was Rob H, creating a third way, while we went another. Our way was steep, which found me at the back, party to a conversation (not of my making) extolling the merit of the hashers doing on-backs:
"Nice face, shame about the body".
"Nice body, shame about about the face".
(The commentary did not differentiate between gender.)
"Nice body, nice body".
"Hands off, you cheeky caaaaa. That's my Kev!"
50 Shades of Grey came up in conversation. I said that I had only read 12 pages before I put the book down. Couldn't stand the writing style.
My companions said they got a bit further, then stopped. "Why", I asked. "Batteries", was the reply. "What?" "Yeah, flat batteries".
Fortunately, we soon got to the next split, and parted company.
The Longs hit Cowleaze wood, then traversed a mass of contours down to Lower Vicar's Farm (a prize for the best explanation of a "lower vicar". A vicar that moos?) and the same mass of contours as we climbed again.
The sound of the motorway got louder and louder. Fortunately, there were no more checks to not hear the on-on, until we got to Grant's Plantation.
Kev, who is local, informed me that doggers used the car park we were running through.
"What's dogging?", I asked. Kev explained it thus.
"It's a bit like a car boot sale. People bring their old tat, and try to exchange it for someone else's old tat. Then they take their old tat back. But no money changes hands." I didn't realise how much people in Stokenchurch were into recycling. They must get something out of it. We ran on swiftly, to avoid a similar fate. All excepting Anthony, who hobbled and skipped, after Sarah and Sarah, on the quickest way back.
The last descent took us on a convoluted, corrugated track around, and down, Beacon Hill, where the slope was a sea of bright green eyes (sheep) and no sign of Deefor. Was there going to be a "Twist" in the tail/tale? Nah. Just a very long on-inn along alternative route "H" under the motorway.
In the pub, we were segregated into a cosy bar on the right, reserved for "Outsiders". Good beer. Good chips. Pretty expensive lime and soda.
Now the revelation hinted at the beginning of the page.
The Kenometer has, for once, conformed to an imperial measure. I measured the short at 4.7 miles and the long at 6.5 miles and this is as close as Ken has ever got in his pre-hash prediction. Must be more Didcot rules being adhered to. But, great run all the same.