“The Hare Apparent”
Scribed by Secret Squirrel
After the impressive turn-out for Call-Girl’s face-off with the Surrey Hash last weekend, it was a rather reduced pack that turned up this Sunday for ITB and Cynthia’s trail from East Horsley. As the “Shalford Bus”, driven by Easily Overlooked and carrying Dusty and Secret Squirrel (your scribe for this week), drew into the car park behind the shops there was concern that we might be in the wrong place as there were no other hashers in sight. But then we spotted Wally lurking in his car in the corner, and soon afterwards Wurzel rolled in followed by Hawkeye, and when Tea-Cosy ran in a magnificent 7 had formed.
Next our hares strolled in, looking relaxed and calm, and ITB confessed he had already been home for a shower. Cynthia opted to run with us, which was reassuring to those who remembered giving up on one of her trails from this location a few years ago because it was taking us too long to find the way. There was no briefing to speak of, every question we asked elicited a negative reply – “Marked falsies? No” – “Regroup? No” – “Back-checks? No (probably)” – and it would not be too long either. So, just a couple of minutes late (without Sparkly to keep us on our toes we had become a touch too relaxed) we set off up the road towards Horsley Towers.
Since most of the pack of 7 were dedicated Pis’to’ffen runners we duly made a right hash of the first circle (and even left it ambiguously kicked). I think Dusty turned back from the correct route before he reached the first blob of flour (I was way up the footpath to the left at the time) so we probably got help from our hare apparent (*) before heading east up Pennymead Drive. This was significant because, unbeknown to us, Virgil & Venus had gone to the wrong carpark by the Village Hall and by the time they had worked out their mistake we had disappeared. They then wasted a lot of time at this same first circle, feeling themselves misled by the way it was kicked, and so never caught up with us.
Heading on up through the still more rarified housing of Pine Walk, our front runners were tempted into the woods at the far end, but the canny ones watched Cynthia as she waited at the next circle and took the hint to head west instead. So began a game that was to be repeated quite a few more times, as we tried to get clues from our hare when the evidence on the ground seemed lacking. We managed to find our own way back to Ockham Road and TC led us south towards the Duke of Wellington, but it was Hawkeye who found the clever dodge around the back of the pub and out onto the A246. We all agreed on the turn to the west but Dusty then lost out with a brave trip towards The Sheepleas and Hawkeye lost ground exploring West Horsley Place, leaving TC to take us across the meadows towards East Horsley before calling a voluntary regroup. Here we discussed the several uses to which West Horsley Place has been put, including a TV series (Ghosts) and an opera house, capped, I think I heard, by Cynthia talking about some star singing in her attic (but I may have got that wrong and in any case there was no mention of luncheon vouchers).
The next few circles did a great job in shuffling the pack as nobody was able to keep the lead for long, EO and Wurzel showing short-lived promise. My own effort at the north end of the village merely allowed me to recce the pub for later, moving me from 2nd to 7th in one simple failure. But then Cynthia tipped me the wink a moment later, as the main pack missed a sneaky left turn, putting me neatly back into 2nd (Hawkeye, of course, got this bit exactly right and was well out of sight at the front). Heading north along Silkmore Lane, I made the foolish mistake of trying to stay ahead of TC for as long as possible before the inevitable blow-out brought me to a halt at the next circle. This one had us all foxed, Hawkeye had had time to explore all possibilities at least twice, including a hostile “Private” sign on an obvious path, an electric fence across another, and a total lack of flour on the onward track, so an involuntary regroup ensued. Even Cynthia looked lost for a moment, but then she led us further north and pointed us into a field to our right just where Hawkeye had given up earlier. This was a rare treat as we were able to run on new footpaths created in “Horsley Meadows”, a new community park with great views to the south and west.
We emerged onto Long Reach and felt the strong draw of the direction towards our start/finish point, south across what Google calls “The St”, up Lollesworth Lane to recross the railway line, and then home along that narrow tarmac path beside the railway. I was way too far behind to see who took line honours but it must have been between TC, H and D as EO was with me and the two W’s were behind us. Who cares? It’s not a race, but it had been a very good run for all of us.
The two V’s rolled in about 5 or 10 minutes after us. We don’t know what had been said between them about the carpark error, but marital harmony appeared to have been restored by the time we saw them. They were able to have a joint moan about our “checking chicken” and that first circle, there’s nothing like having a common enemy to bring folks together!
Verdict: This was an excellent run. A good distance, not too hilly, and with enough uncertainty to keep us together. We were grateful for Cynthia’s presence to keep us on track a few times, but I think we were all happy with the outing. I don’t think the nervous residents of either Horsley village will be querying the strange white powder outside their gates because there wasn’t enough of it to interest any dog. Thank you, Cynthia and ITB, we appreciated your efforts.
At the Pub: It was agreed that we would head to the Barley Mow at East Horsley (which I had already passed twice during the run) where Cynthia claimed that 5 bowls of chips were already on order. A quick head count indicated that, with a little luck, we could be in for half a bowl of chips each. With both hares and a full team of runners we were able to sit at a table inside and enjoy Shere Drop and Ranmore Ale (except for the lager, wine and coffee drinkers – really, is this a “drinking club with a running problem”?).
Despite the prior order, we had to wait a long time for the promised chips, but it was definitely worth the wait as they were soon voted the best chips of the year. Maybe the landlord held them back until Tea-Cosy arrived, because he ran home for a shower first! The pub dog looked almost old enough to be a member of the Surrey Hash, and there was lots of hammering going on outside as some sort of outdoor drinking space seemed to be under construction. Conversation turned to old phantoms and other hash groups, Super and Dissa were recalled with affection and Popeye with bemusement, while ITB recounted tales of visiting an Amsterdam Hash. Meanwhile some competitive bravado was displayed with increasing quantities of mustard being spread on the last few chips – no names mentioned here.
* Hash Joke: What is the connection between Prince Charles, a bald-headed man, an orphan and a gorilla? Answer – one is the Heir Apparent, another has no hair apparent, the next has ne’re a parent, and the last had a hairy parent!