It's always disconcerting when you're standing there, minding your own business, and then suddenly feel a heavy hand upon your shoulder:
"Excuse me sir"
A hundred thoughts flashed through my mind. Overdue car tax? Shooting that red light back in Hazlemere? Running over that pheasant?
"'On account of what you've done....."
What had I done? What HAD I done?!
"...and because your colleagues have abandoned you...."
Sorry, what was that last bit???
"...and for being all fancy and that...Hasher of the Year, I ask you! Well, you'll just have to write the Run Report tonight!"
I spun around to face...absolutely nothing. There was nobody there. Then I looked down and saw that the hand in question was connected to the body of a grinning Hels Belles. What a relief!
Now, I'm not going to even start this write-up with a pretend "Oh, it was a remarkably mild night..." and then deliver the usual literary volte-face that it was Rocky Road's run and so I was just being ironic. Nope, it was totally wet and miserable. End of. If you're looking for a happy-clappy sunshine report, look away now. Or wait until June.
Perhaps it was my waterlogged ears as we huddled together for the hare's briefing, but I'm sure I heard something about 'The Virgin Lawrence' (a patron saint of mud perchance?) and cows hiding up trees (at which point Chicken Licken audibly gulped, nearly drowning from water ingestion in the process).
"Check it out!" The trail could have been any one of 180 degrees fanning out across the common, so we did what most sensible hashers do and waited. For a clue. Meanwhile, the non-sensible hashers - aka FRBs - dutifully checked out the 180 theoretically possible routes...which is a bit tricky when there are only 3 of you. Still, their little tails were wagging as they bounded off into the misty night.
Gallows humour had already set in by the time we reached the gates for Penn Wood, a notoriously boggy , squelch-fest. "Abandon all hope ye who enter here" was muttered from midst of the pack as we stepped off the tarmac into oblivion.
First Blood. Sylvester Stallone. John Rambo. This was the movie that immediately sprang to mind. You know, the one where a group of blundering guardsmen set off into a wet, impenetrable forest on the hunt for a Special Forces veteran who proceeds to set booby traps to maim and humiliate them.
"Arggghhhh!" The first shout went up from the head of the hash [note: NEVER go to the front in one of those movies - or the very back for that matter - those idiots always get picked off first]. Luckily, this time it turned out not to be a bracken-covered bear trap, but Nicola [note: no hash name yet?], who had gone knee-deep in shiggy whilst bemoaning her lack of waterproof trail shoes (or hinting strongly because of an imminent birthday).
"Noooooooooo!!!!" Suddenly, towards my left, another cry of pain pierced the night. Gritty-Arsed Fox sank dramatically to her knees, as if impaled by a sharp wooden spike. She remained motionless on the ground, head slumped on her chest, arms dangling limply, as the life slowly leaked out of her, puddling into the small stream that was beginning to flow around her inert body. "Oh for F**K's SAKE!" Ah, maybe I spoke too soon...she was VERY alive - just a spectacular moose!
At this point, many bets were being taken on Moose overtaking his world record for the number of individual mooses set on a hash (3 and a half, The Beech Tree, Run 1491) as we struggled to stay upright whilst forging our way across the root-strewn, gloomy forest floor.
I say gloom, but we did have Massif Slacker's 'Harry Potter Cloak of Visibility' to light our way, like a huge earth-tethered moon (Conehead had downgraded his luminosity on this occasion in order to save the collective sight of the hash). This may have backfired as Slacker proceeded to then unveil his luminous running shorts and even threatened to show us his matching glow-in-the-dark pants. He does think a lot of himself it must be said...it's almost as if the moon shines out of his arse...
"He's behind us!!!" Rocky Road was beginning to show signs of delirium at the stress of being hunted. We repeatedly back-tracked to try to throw our pursuers off the scent (not because we kept getting lost of course). I say our pursuers, but what I really meant was the GM who was late arriving. Still, he would love to think of himself as John Rambo. Come to think of it, he might even name himself that?!
To keep our spirits up, we recounted the events of Saturday's Xmas Hash Party. I finally worked out why I had such a cracking hangover (mine-sweeping red wine along with Chicken Licken), the answers to the '15 feet of Hashers' were discussed and debated (Hels Belles still bemoaning her podgy ankles), and luckily those with nut allergies managed to avoid the carrot cake - not exactly a Rambo way to die, but hey ho, we all survived.
By now it was time for an 'Extra Long Loop' and at Akela Helen's command, about 12 of us formed a disorderly queue as she ripped the map from Maggie. And promptly ran the wrong way. Luckily this loop involved crossing the road into Common Wood which had proper paths and a lack of leg-breaking tree roots, so we were able to get up a bit of speed (purely relative) and after 2km, arrived back in Penn Woods again....where it all got very gnarly... again.
"Where's Billy? One bark for 'Yes', two for 'No'!"
We almost lost a few hashers on the way back, but did manage to eventually find some flour and ploughed on (literally) for home, soon (surprisingly soon as it turned out) sighting the welcoming lights of The Squirrel. We found that we had arrived back before the Mediums...who had the hare with them. By this point it had turned truly biblical (even by Rocky Road's standards) but to lose a hare is not the done thing, so half of our number went back out into the woods to look for her amidst the deluge.
Duly located, we all squeezed into the front bar and devoured flapjacks, leftover chocie biscuits and, of course, the eponymous Rocky Road! In a noble gesture, Rocky Road decided to forfeit the chips for a charity donation and passed the hat around as well to make it Cancer 1 v Chips 0.
Finally, a very glamorous Magneto (latest addition - a little map) was paraded around the pub and awarded to Crazy (now Crazy Goldfish) for his sterling efforts in getting to WC's 3 Horseshoes snowbound run a fortnight ago. It's going to be interesting getting a Fat Bike between those clamped-together bronzed legs (not a euphemism or a quote from Love Island, I hasten to add).
Let me leave you with this thought.
When it's dark and the wind is howling, and you feel a hand on your shoulder but there's nothing there...you're either being tapped up for a Run Report by a small person.. or something far more sinister is afoot...just pray it's a Run Report!