Help Ma Bob!
A new starting place – the waterfront park at Tai Shui Hang – and a new runner, Paul, who like Golden Balls used to be blindingly fast and is now just an old crock. A hare who had marked the trail the previous day and was scornfully contemptuous of the “no markings” bleatings from the pack. A trail that started off like a train wreck and turned into a shinkansen. Yes, it was another night on the Northern New Territories Hash.
Hare Velcro Lips delivered a briefing and indicated we should head north in the general direction of Mui Tsz Lam. This suited Paul, a Tai Shui Hang resident, who as we trooped off declared there were basically only two ways to go. How little he knows! How much he has to learn of the craft of hashing!
The first check was quickly reached near a crossroads and the pack duly split up to investigate the several options, and found… nothing. We milled and probed for a good 10 minutes until Gaele Says No, heading back towards the start from the check, found trail over a railing leading down a rough track to a stream. Paul was suitably impressed. “I’ve lived all these years and never knew this path was here.” Just wait until later, pal.
Another mystifying check was eventually solved by GB cutting through grass towards the Tai Shui Hang high-rises. At this point latecomers Mango Groove and Eunuch joined us, having been fed intelligence by the hare.
Into the high-rises and the village area. Sporadic, seemingly random arrows would appear. “Trail!” and off we funnelled. At this point, Paul peeled off, distinctly unimpressed with his first hashing experience. Or perhaps it was because he lives nearby and dinner was on table and he’d told his wife he wouldn’t be more than an hour… “As soon as I left you I saw several arrows that I followed on my way home but then they disappeared again…better luck next time?”
Another hard check, eventually solved by Catch Of The Day, leading to a bridge with yet another unsolvable check, or at least it was to me as I checked north towards the sea for a long way. When I got back to the check everybody had disappeared and there were so many options – and I couldn’t find trail anywhere.
After about 10 minutes I gave up and was heading back towards the start when I came across arrows heading home. Yes! I followed these backwards up a dark barricaded road heading uphill to a service reservoir, eventually reaching the rambo/wimp split. Now I was the FRB, but the real front-runners were already coming down from the direction of the service reservoir. They had found trail out of the village and uphill through low scrub, then down to the service reservoir. Inexplicably Plod was in the lead. How?
I took the rambo option and found myself on a well marked contoury-undulatory track looking down on Ma On Shan Town. After a while there was a check at a junction, with the option of going steeply uphill or steeply downhill. Being first to get there I was obliged to check in one of these directions. I chose the steeply downhill, consigning the fast-closing Gaele Says No to the uphill option. Then I found trail. Yes! I waited another 10 seconds before calling just to make GSN climb a bit more. “Trail!!!”
Wasn’t long before GSN and then Eunuch came past me like a freight train, and the three of us emerged more or less together on a quiet back road where there was a check. As I gamely waited at the check to mark it for the others, GSN and Eunuch went charging off left, the intuitive direction to the finish. Then came charging back. “T!” At this point Plod emerged and headed left, ignoring our warnings, and ran straight through the T, which was positioned under a street light. “I didn’t see it,” he protested later. A classic case of selective vision.
We checked right – nothing. Up the embankment on to the highway – nothing. Left again – T. By this time, Catch Of The Day, Dingaling and Mango Groove had joined the throng checking every likely and unlikely which-way, until we heard a distant strangulated call from Eunuch, 700 metres to the right. “Trail!!!” From there it was over the pedestrian flyover into Ma On Shan, through a park, under a subway and – after a final spiteful bit of disappearing trail – a one-kilometre jog home along the waterfront.
Back at the toilet block we call home we got stuck in to bottles of “craft” beer (still drinking the leftovers from the 1800th run!). Velcro was concerned about Dram, who nobody had seen at all after the village. Eventually he hobbled in from the south, looking much the worse for wear, and declaiming “I’ve got to stop doing this!” We waited for the pronouncement that from where he stands he shall hash no more forever. “I’ve got to stop using my initiative!” At the top of the first hill, where trail went left down to the reservoir, he had spied a likely-looking short cut to the right that looked like it would head straight back to the finish. “It got steeper and steeper and then I was in this river bed clambering boulders for ages. Then I came up out of the ravine to a gate and fence 3 metres high. Well, the only way round was to clamber over these rocks above a cliff and… ooh! Help ma bob!”
Next to the bucket there was one of those hateful pebbly walkways, which we proceeded to try out. Bukkake and me strolled it, whistling tunelessly, face screwed into a rictus of agony, but Liberace and Dram’s antics were hilarious as they minced strangely around the circuit. Plod tried to go on in his shoes, to universal condemnation. “It’s like walking on tatami in shoes, totally disrespectful!” Then the Japanese Catch Of The Day walked on it in her shoes. Later she was most put out when Mango mistook some fat bird stretching on the exercise frames for her, especially as she’s paid $35,000 for a personal trainer and hasn’t lost an ounce. Eunuch led an irreverent circle about which the only thing I can remember is laughing till my sides hurt, and then we went home. A great night’s hashing. – Golden Balls