The ULSCR, friends, relatives and the rest having gathered at the appointed time on the fourth Saturday in July settled to begin their adventure. I have, for my sins, been asked to recount the whole particulars about the Treasure Hunt, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the drunken ramblings and after hours activities of the society, and that only because there is not much memory of those events. I take up my pen in the year of grace 2008 and go back to the time when the UL gathered at the Liberty Bounds inn and the day began when the first man took up his glass at 10am and quaffed the first of many pints of ale.
I remember it as if it were yesterday, the members plodding to the inn door, pens in hand and eager to begin. I remember looking around the Inn as teams formed and chose their names, breaking out into laughter at their suggestions, as at many times throughout the day: “Treble Trouble!” and “The dodgers!”
Our organisers came to the assembly, explaining, in high spirits, the order of the day. They rapped on the table and when the team sheets appeared, filled in announced the competition open. The question sheets and coloured wax crayons were handed out and rules explained. The teams quit the Inn and the hunt was on for treasure and many instances of Katherine.
Well, thus equipped, with pen and crayon we all set out, even the fellows unaided by alcohol, who should surely have stayed in the pub-and straggled in teams of 2-6 to the first location where several searching-questions faced us. As a team we were over eager and missed the lures of Leadenhall Road missing out on crucial points which would lessen our chances of victory. With the questions read and divided into categories we set off North to Liverpool Street Station to pick up answers and the rest of our team.
As we pulled over to the station to wait, there was some discussion of the route. One member of our party, when asked to produce an A-Z lifted from his bag a map which could have covered all 6 members of our team had it decided to rain. The map was, of course, far too large to be guide when walking around, so a route was checked and the hunt continued, much information having been gleaned from Liverpool Street and the surrounding area.
Upon passing a quaint inn at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, by the name of the Seven Stars, we were enticed to enter and sample its wares, as well as meeting a cat named Tom who wore a ruff and seemed to be the landlord. This episode, as you will see, proved fatal for me and my comrades.
Our team headed south-west to Leicester Square where Chaplin’s Statue was the principal mark, this we thought, would be an easy mark to find. Now, right before us, the Square of Leicester was surrounded and filled with music theatre enthusiasts and performers making the task at hand near to impossible due to the shear volume of visitors and scaffolding. The party spread itself abroad, in a fan shape and on hands and knees attempted to see underneath various obstacles, but to no avail. We abandoned our search and moved further abroad.
We had thus proceeded for several streets, discerning the price of tea at Fortnum and Mason and the original location of Anthony Caro’s Promenade, the crowning glory of the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition, when we came to Kensington. After heading through Hyde Park and the museums, the person upon the farthest left of our party noticed the time and began to cry aloud. We had but 20 minutes to make to to the south of the river and to the red cross on our map which marked the spot of the pub where we were to end our quest. There then ensued much running forth to reach the inn at the appointed time.
We saw another team ahead and indeed, soon after, found that we had also reached the spot within the time. As the points were counted and much refreshing ale was drunk, the teams relaxed the the gardens of the Doggets Coat and Badge, awaiting the treasure. The victors were “AntiMerediths”, putting us in second place by the irritating margin of one half of a point. The treasure was found and the amount of £550 was raised for the Katherine Cree appeal.
We started certainly but in spite of the hot sun and the intermittent showers, the ringers no longer ran in separate teams, shouting through the boroughs, but kept side by side and spoke with ever slurring speech. The fun of the day had lifted all our spirits.
The sites and trivia still lie, for all that I know, where we found them on the day and certainly they shall lie there for ever in our minds. And the memories that ever I have are when I hear random facts about London, the information hanging in my ears for future reference and still this cry is ringing in my ears: “If only we hadn’t stopped for that pint at lunch time!”
By Jessica Glaisher (with some help from Robert Louis Stevenson)