Our day of treasure hunting started in the Lord Moon of the Mall, the pub thinking they’d hit pay dirt with a full pub by eleven am but it was not to last. Once everyone had turned up Clara and Peter handed out the first set of puzzles and got everyone’s team names.
It turned out we were to spend the day sniffing around for answers on the
underground. I myself started the day with what seemed to be the winning team: Nick Jones, chief rail enthusiast, Lian Von Wantoch and Ana Tam who between them have more books on London than anyone else I can think of. We were first out of the gate and we rushed off to St Paul’s full of confidence only to arrive from the wrong station and to miss all of the clues.
Rather than having a quick look (as most teams seemed to have done) and rushing off to the next station it was a good hour before we left, still not having found all the answers. After a further tour of what seemed the most distant tube stops in London — Marylebone, Sloane Square, and Waterloo (who thought of this route?), we were far behind the rest of the UL.
With Jones’s reputation as a train spotter plummeting faster than the lifts at Goodge Street it was time to start cheating. With Charing Cross and Earl’s Court the next two stations to visit, Jones disappeared into the warren of tunnels around Charing Cross station before emerging with the answers to the Earl’s Court stations saving us a trip.
Unfortunately he’d been spotted; exiting the TARDIS outside Earl’s Court even though he’s not a time lord, now the dog was loose with Sean spotted riding a sheep around Soho, and Rupert being very showbiz and catching a helicopter from Hyde Park.
Soon Clara was phoning round checking to see if groups were together, but having
been drinking since 11 she wasn’t really paying attention to what people said so some
rough impressions saved the day. Finally with legs tired from vaulting barriers and unpaid
fare tickets mounting it was time to retire to the pub.
With two hours still to go however, there was plenty of time to bribe the Poodles with beer and, with the help of a nearby pub regular, try to answer a few more questions. Soon we were rattling through the questions in a pub full of other UL members doing the same; the race to the finish was on.
The last minute questions worked, helped of course by buying a few more beers for the Poodles, and we shot up the league tables, however it was too late and the winning team was Hair of the Dog, who’d nosed their way to victory with the Poodle friendly team name, regular beer bribes and a surprising knowledge of the underground. We managed to salvage a surprising second place, but with our earlier poor performance we still ended up with the Pants team’s pants. Still, so long as I can find my pants I’ll always be able to find my way home from now on.
By Hugh Spalding