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It was another sweltering afternoon – the 10th or 20th in a series of sweltering July days. Or was it the 30th ? We couldn’t tell anymore – we could only remember an endless blurr of heat. Of course the more delicate hashers could not be expected to attend a run in such weather.

And it was the day of the World Cup Final, so obviously the Riviera’s numerous Spanish and Dutch members would not be able to leave their domiciles for such an unexciting activity as hashing.

So that left a very small, hard-core group of tough, non-Spanish, non-Dutch hashers.

We did require a hare, though. Due to some mix-up, possibly [certainly] by Sneaky Bastard, no hare had been scheduled for this run, and Confusion remarked several times at the previous run that it was the first time in her memory that the Riviera HHH would be hare-less on a hash Sunday. Then at the last minute Prestressed offered to prepare a trail, thus sparing us the agony of having to cancel the run. Thank-you Prestressed !! Three cheers for our devoted Grand Master !!

And Confusion offered to prepare another picnic to save Prestressed the hassle of finding a restaurant. So three cheers to Confusion too !!

Pedo couldn’t make it to the run because he had to be in London, where his son was being knighted by the Queen, so he delivered all the beer supplies to Farty Bum. Farty Bum, who had to catch a train very early Monday morning, and had a zillion things to do, decided she would just drive to the hash and deliver the beer, then turn around and go straight back home.

Then Prestressed called with the news that only ONE PERSON had reserved for the picnic. This was a virgin called Peter. Counting this virgin, plus Prestressed (the hare), Confusion (the cook) and her two visiting grandchildren (Furby and Flour Power), and anyone else even remotely likely to show up (ie non-Dutch, non-Spanish, etc), we arrived at a figure of ten possible hashers. So Farty Bum promised the weeping Prestressed that she would NOT go home after delivering the beer, but would stay for the entire run.

Prestressed declared that he wouldn’t bother with a beer-stop for such a measly turnout so Farty Bum, rather than shift the two-ton mountain of supplies that Pedo had left in her garage, simply went to the supermarket and bought one carton of beer, two bags of chips, and twelve bottles of water.

As already mentioned, the run day was another scorching July afternoon. There were so many vacationers thronging the shores and waters of lake St Cassien, and so many of their vehicles clogging up the road, that there was scarcely room for passing hash cars to squeeze through. We had to slow right down.

But fortunately we weren’t late, because Prestressed surprised us by showing that he is capable of learning if submitted to sufficient criticism. His directions were both clear and complete, totally unlike the hyper-condensed drivel he posted before his Easter run with Incredible Hulk. We had no trouble finding the starting point, which was next to the 12th century Chapelle St Cassien Le Bois, on the road between Tanneron and Montauroux.

When we stopped in the parking lot and opened the back to take out our running shoes, our hash provisions attracted a crowd of thirsty young men who demanded that we sell them some beer, arguing that if they paid two euros per beer, we would make a huge profit. So we handed over three beers. After hunting through all their pockets, however, they only managed to find three euros in small change (or so they claimed) and so the hash did not make its fortune that day after all.

Prestressed looked in the back of Farty Bum’s car and asked, “Where’s the ice?”

“Ice?” said Farty Bum. “You got ME today ! So who cares about ice.”

Prestressed cared. Fortunately, he had frozen about forty small bottles of water (it was a scorching day, remember) so we put three of these into the beer crate in the spaces vacated by the sold beer, and wrapped the whole thing up in Virgin Mouth’s picnic blanket, and by the time we started the circle a few hours later, the beer was chilly.

Humans were definitely scarcer than ice at this hash. Only eight people had managed to overcome the heat and World Cup fever and get themselves to the run. Here again (glory be unto them) are their names: Prestressed, Confusion, Farty Bum, Virgin Mouth, Two Cheeky, Furby (age 9), Flour Power (age 7), and the virgin Peter with his little dog Alf.

Dingus wasn’t there to blow the whistle; still we started off somehow. We headed down to a field of boulders by the river, but the trail cleverly turned and went up an embankment instead. This proved to be too steep for the still-injured Two Cheeky, so she went back up to the road and went around that way, rejoining us a little farther along.

The runners – the two children and the virgin and the dog Alf – quickly got ahead of us and disappeared into the undergrowth. We weren’t sure who was leading who there. (And only in the hash do we confidently send young children into the bush with strange men.)

The walkers came down from the embankment and approached the river again, where there was a nice little footbridge. After Two Cheeky caught up, we crossed the bridge and started off down a path alongside the river. Now began a very, very pleasant walk – quite seriously, one of the most enjoyable hashes we have had in a long time.

It may have been 35 degrees elsewhere, but our little trail was cool and shady, the river, as clear as the Aegean Sea, tinkled along beside us, the trail wound along through green groves of ferns and then shady trees, sometimes up a little, sometimes down a little, but never anything nasty or difficult (although a couple of times Two Cheeky had to descend an incline on her rear end). It felt like we were somewhere in the middle of the nineteenth century. And the company! Such a select group to be walking with !

Eventually we arrived at the river crossing. Farty Bum went in first, walking cautiously, a little bent forward because she had a sore back from carrying tons of gravel for Mad Max. Next Two Cheeky waded in with her walking sticks, stopping in the middle of the river to raise her arms towards heaven and shout out in joyful praise of cool, refreshing water. Then came Confusion, chucking her water bottles over first, and then picking her way across slightly to the left (downstream) of Two Cheeky. Last came Virgin Mouth, desperately trying to keep her shorts rolled up so they would stay dry.

On the other side of the river we met the hare, who informed us that the runners were right on schedule, 45 minutes behind us. So you see, this was no token hash that Prestressed had prepared for us – it was the real thing. We told Prestressed it was a shame to waste such a glorious trail on only eight people, and that he should use it again, but Prestressed said he didn’t need to use it again because he already had an even better trail lined up, with an ancient, high, stone arched bridge on it, from which hashers could plunge into the river after removing their spectacles.

The trail on the second side of the river was not quite as romantic as first half, being closer to the road and not so hidden under trees. We squelched along in our wet boots and were soon back at the parking lot, where Confusion laid out the picnic on a blanket near the river.

The runners finally showed up, and when asked if they had held hands while crossing the river, the two short ones shook their heads, while the tall virgin asked, “How could we? I had to carry Alf.”

So there you are, folks. These two VISITING junior members very capably ran the entire trail and crossed the river ALL BY THEMSELVES, proving that they are as tough and resilient as Supermarket Trolley, Dingus, Perpetch, Padre, No Satisfaction or any of the rest of them. Our hats off to them !!

Prestressed began preparing the beer for the down-downs, and discovered that Farty Bum had bought the wrong kind of beer – not the kind with the twist-off tops, that is.

“Where’s the opener?” he asked.

“Opener?” said Farty Bum.

Gnashing his teeth, Prestressed began frantically struggling to open bottles of beer. After the polimique of this spring, there was no way he was going to dispense with the circle. He managed to get the tops off five beers, though he paid heavily (two chipped teeth and three mangled fingertips). We told him five was plenty, because we were only eight, remember, and two of them were under-age, leaving six, and surely there would not be down-downs for every single one of us.

Eight people definitely makes for a small circle, and it was hard impressing the significance of this ritual on the virgin. Somehow we couldn’t sing heartily enough to keep his attention. Twice Prestressed had go to the picnic blanket, where the virgin was down on his knees filling his plate, and grab him by the scruff of the neck and drag him back to the circle.

Since none of the bad, rowdy, undisciplined hashers were present, there were no serious crimes. Two Cheeky got a down-down for the seat of her pants being all dirty from descending slopes on her rear end, and Flour Power got one for her seventh birthday, and that’s all I remember.

Then Prestressed announced that Farty Bum would be shit of the week for bringing the wrong kind of beer, and not bringing ice or an opener (especially for not bringing ice), but there was not time to vote on this because we had to start the picnic or we wouldn’t get home in time for the World Cup. So he postponed shit of the week till the next hash, but only as an un-voted proposal, not as a decided verdict.

And that’s about it.

Thank-you to Prestressed for stepping in at the last moment and organizing a truly lovely trail for such a small crowd, and thank-you to Confusion for preparing another lovely picnic, and for bringing the superb Furby and Flour Power to stand in for all the absent runners, and a big thank-you to Farty Bum for gracing the hash with her presence. Because she gave up her afternoon to go to the hash, she finished her packing in such a rush that she left without the address of the hotel; consequently, she slept on the sidewalk in front of the train station in Venice the next night. Just another small sacrifice for the hash, to be rewarded with a shit of the week. Nothing unusual in THAT.
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