12th September – Thames Ditton

Scribe – KC

This was truly a forest run, much of it in the dark, through trees, bushes, and shrubs, and more shrubs, bushes, and trees, in this green and pleasant little known Surrey village. For a few anxious moments, at 19.26 hrs to be precise, the four or five hashers who had turned up at the George and Dragon were beginning to wonder whether this was to be a village too far for most. With ‘W’ absent from the postcode might those who thought about getting a life have cause to do just that? For a week at least? “But it’s quality, not quantity” roared/ howled/ rationalised Dingo, the sixth to arrive, in snazzy bike apparel and hard hat to boot, though minus other bits of essential sports gear (but more about that later). All fears were however soon allayed, as 19.38 hrs approaches, and trip by trop, the hotly brewed dribbled in, on two, four or more heels (as some Eastenders would say). It was a respectable pack for a run site few had ever heard of.

Ditton in fact comes from the Saxon word dictune, meaning a village situated on a dike or trench of water. The G&D stood guard at a high spot, ensuring weary travellers, city brokers and hashers find it easily in the dark, to receive succour and sustenance after the long, arduous journey from different parts of the Greater London empire. On-outing  from the G&D, the run meandered through the aforementioned trees, bushes and shrubs, first in the light, then half light and then no light, treading softly (not so much on mosturised dreams as on shiggy and early autumn leaf fall), except when the trail traverses tarmac,  mostly ‘C’ and ‘D’ country roads/lanes, and also a busy ‘B’ road on which a forlorn Red Cafe stood.

When all at once, the pack came upon – a fallen tree trunk. This spanned a deep chasm filled with fetid water and forest gunge. The hare (Skylark) had presented the pack with a mother of a dike (which begged the question: Did or Ditton? Aye), inhabited by creatures large and small, including leeches and other nasties like the Leptospira bacterium. The last of these causes the usually fatal Weils disease, which affects the membranes within brain, liver and heart, and is transmitted by animals (rats, voles, foxes, wild dogs) leaving body fluids in the water.

The less intrepid hashers inched their way to the opposite bank, either at great sacrifice to their bottoms, or by reverting to type and adopting the doggy position (for which down downs were later rendered). The more intrepid (Rambo, Impossible? one might add), braved the leeches and Leptos, wetting themselves in the process. We’ll know if anyone had caught the nasties as the Weil’s incubation period can be between one to three weeks (so look out on future WLH3 runs for anyone howling at street lighting or drinking from the toilet bowl). All these brave acts were in fact quite unnecessary as, had anyone bothered to check, only a few yards on, shrouded in evening mist, was to be found a National Trust bridge which any child could have crossed blind-folded.

Forest runs in the dark do strange things to some hashers, like turning into werewolves. Stayover developed a penchant in the bushes for human flesh, devouring a savoury rambo-burger and a somewhat soggy Impossible Pissa, before sweet-toothing on M&M. Others had to make do with the chips and leftover pub grub which the landlord generously laid on back at the G&D (apart from Gaylick who splashed out for  a prime house sir-loin). An early circle ensued (dictated by the train times), with DDs awarded to: Dingo (who else but) and Love D (Forty-All) for coming in joint first in the legless afterwards category of the Bacchus half-marathon; a number of old gits for going on Saga holidays; three doggy position ditch-likkers (with Hobo in the rear); SF and his blonde visitor from Madrid (for just being there, I think); etc etc.

All in all – other than for need of more strategically placed Chalk Circles and FT indexes to permit the more laid back play catch-up –  a fairly decent run at a pretty neck of the woods.

Epilogue: One well deserved DD was somehow overlooked. Dingo, despite appearances to the contrary, was not as well kitted out for the run as she would normally have liked. You see, she has only one sports bra. After doing a fine job of keeping the balance at the Bacchus half-marathon, it somehow went AWOL. “I slumped into bed fully clothed (and legless) on Saturday nite, but it wasn’t on me in the morning; looked under the bed and every nook and corner of my usually tidy flat, yet it seems to have just vanished in thin air”, so whispered Dingo to another hasher before the run. But midway through the dike event, she suddenly remembered. “Of course, it was in the washing machine all along  – along with my dirty socks and mickers, but I had forgotten to turn the damn thing on”. Three days of sweaty stuff in an enclosed space? There’s a good chance it would have turned as green as the water in the Ditton trench, hopefully minus the Leptos. No worries, its about time for some new sports gear anyway, I reckon.

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