Run Report 1559: The Royal Oak, Brockham

Mad geese and the PH3 go out for a midday swim……….

Scribed by Hawkeye

I spent the weekend variously drunk and fencing and as a result have erected some drunken fencing. Furthermore in a strange quirk of fate the weekend also finished with drunken fencing this time in the shape of The Musketeers on BBC1. But in between such swash and panel buckling I ventured forth to a hash run, but no ordinary hash run this, a run set to Guildford H3 rules….in Brockham. Oh boy.

Nonetheless Brockham was not still twinned with Atlantis and contrary to rumour, was therefore no longer underwater; the levels had dropped just enough for a faithful flock of foolhardy followers to find fortune, favour, friends and above all a dry spot to park. The unwary arrivals included Scooby Doo, Wally, El Caudello, Dissa, TIFM, Cinderella, and sister ‘New Emily’ (now known as Whoopi), Quasimodo, Uphill Gill, Paul Newman, Virgil, Venus and Pis’t’man Pat.

Sparkly deployed the Garmin and summoned the hour and our hare gave us some instructions…..that no one understood or seemed too bothered about. But the hare was to run with the hounds so we’d be alright, we hoped. In fact having the hare along for the run was to prove both a blessing and a curse.

The first rule of PH3 is: You do not talk about PH3. The second rule of PH3 is: You do not talk about PH3. Third rule of PH3: Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the hash is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a hash. Fifth rule: one hash at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: Hashes will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: If this is your first hash night at PH3, you have to hash. So whilst the above might be an adaptation from the seminal film Fight Club (1999) – it does ring quite true for PH3. Not for no reason as we known as a Ghost Hash Group (by GH3 apparently). But rules, smules……

The first rule of GH3 hashing is that there are no rules…..this was ably demonstrated by the first circle and the now infamous ‘back-check’. I’d previously heard rumours of back-checks but assumed they were as relevant as the Jabberwocky. The principle is simple but counter-intuitive and merely means that when you arrive at a circle (a check) you need to explore all options (which will not be marked) including (back) along the trail on which you just arrived. To make matters ‘worse’ our confusion was further enhanced by the sudden and subsequent appearance of flour markings that hadn’t been there moments before when we retraced our steps. Being fuggy of mind I was sorely tempted to back-check my way to the car park, a feeling that pervaded the pack in the ensuing hour. So, we may be old dogs, but were we able to learn new tricks…..we ploughed on.

But what happened next was a complete load of bullocks. As occasionally happens this was a head-on hash clash. A trail through a small field with the surface consistency of part-baked treacle and a wildly circling herd of mad cows, throw in a few day-glow colours and the occasional “on-on” and it’s a miracle that everyone lives to this day. No hashers or animals (there is a difference apparently) were hurt in the completion of this hash, although there could yet be psychological scars and then there are Emily’s trainers or rather her mother’s running shoes……. There is obviously a shoe shortage in the O Groans household which might account for the recent absence of Jonno. So in a strong show of sibling rivalry and whilst avoiding the aforementioned treacle, Emily planted a shoe and pulled out a sock, Cinderella must have been so proud. Pride: an emotion you display by nearly wetting yourself laughing! No sister of mercy this. But along with the shoe the other thing to emerge from this is a long-awaited hash name for Emily…….for services of sibling embarrassment and being a real Sister Act; we now have a “Whoopi” in the pack.

By now we weren’t getting the hang of it, but we were having fun in a nervous kind of giddy way. What had become apparent was that rather than kick out a circle to indicate a direction our hare was marking the correct route with a few blobs of flour as he went, most unsettling. It also took the wind out of the front runners sails (as a good hash should do) as they began to learn that unmarked trails were as long as they wanted to make them – in fact by getting too far away from the check, you’d have no chance of hearing anyone actually calling the right route.

This was existential hashing at its best; the trail was theoretical, temporal in nature and the falsies infinite. In fact if you added in the now notorious back check you could even time travel. The sort of thing that makes string theory look simple or perhaps what hashing would be like if Salvador Dali ever took the helm! I guess the only upside potential to this form of hashing is the lack of guilt over short-cutting. Who’d ever know?!

So whilst we struggled to make progress on an actual trail, we also struggled to make much progress over actual ground which in a word was a quagmire. But above ground level there was some lovely scenery set against the imposing back drop of the North Downs. But all things have to come to a good end and having followed Virgil round a three blob turn to a long and marked falsie we were all puzzled beyond belief. The on in in the end was a release, for the brains were sore and at nigh on 7 miles, so were the legs. We returned to the village green thoroughly refreshed, if none the wiser to the rules of GH3

VERDICT: Old dogs, new tricks – well maybe we still have some way to go, but whilst the terrain was heinously wet and the trail testing to track – the exercise and company were first rate. Lost in the company of friends. That said all I can say, is if that is how Guildford set every week, I have a renewed enthusiasm for the PH3! Many thanks Groper it certainly entertained us.

AT THE PUB: I have not heard the buzz of pub conversation at such a sustained level for quite some time, not since one of 80’s notorious full moon car park incidents. Whilst the river had subsided we seemed to choose the local water table on which to sit in the unseasonable January sun. Our nether regions were saved after Wally laid out the rugs and also bought the chips. The ale of choice was Purity’s Mad Goose – so much so that we drank the village dry. And apropos of our run I’d propose that for the purposes of PH3 Groper drops that GH3 name in favour of Mad Goose? Indeed as the conversations continued we recalled an incident involving a previous hare from this pub, Whippet which involved a mix up in locations meaning a trail at one place and the runners at another. The day was saved when the dearly departed Super led an impromptu and virtual hash with the pack in tow. It will not surprise you to know that today’s hare was close friends with Super. I rest my case m’lud. On on.

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