Mark E Mark’s Birthday, Malta 15- 19th November 2007

(Abridged report)

 

      

Before the Hash had even left for Gatwick there were some confused souls to be joining the Party, TC was under the belief that he was flying out of Heathrow!  Floss was under the impression that she was going to be flying out of Stansted!  Still they fared better than the girl who Zing-a-long-a-max was supposed to be taking out to Malta, she was refused a Visa to enter Malta as she hails from Zimbabwe!  & Hyena thought that he had problems holding Number 2’s Handbag!

The “Lost Sheep” were both put right & somehow both Floss & TC were dragged along to the Airport in Surrey where everyone would meet up in the Red Lino Bar, well almost everyone as Windsock had the privilege of being allowed to sup up in the BA lounge!

Junior just heard the end of an announcement about a Mass being held at the Airport chapel at noon, he asked what it was about?  Mr. X replied to him “free Wine & Biscuits for you!” as Junior looked tempted to go for afore mentioned free drink of communion wine!

One good thing of not having the Sock with the rest of the Pack, was that he could drip-feed the information available to the upper classes via a series of sms messages about the delay to the flights departure!  It was a gloriously sunny November morning as the Pack set off to leave, how things would be so different over the rest of the next four days!

As the Pack headed away to the Boarding gate, Mr. X had noticed that Stand in Shit had left his new beige vest/jacket on the back of his chair, so he put it on & discovered that in one of the pockets was a Passport & Boarding Pass in the name of Princep.  It took along time for Stand in to notice that he was jacket-less!  As he queued up to board he suddenly realised & panic set in, Mr. X soon saved the day & pointed out his newly acquired article of clothing, you could see the relief on Stand in Shit’s face!

Now, the first delay on board the flight was due to a tyre having to be changed on the aircraft landing gear.  Once the Pack had boarded they soon found that the flight wasn’t going to leave just yet, an announcement was made that there was an unaccountable bag that had to be found, so the entire hold baggage was removed, sorted & thrown back on!

The Pack was looking a bit despondent at being stuck on a plane, going nowhere, & as everyone knows they can’t serve alcohol until the plane is flying!  But the Hash soon discovered Floss was like Mary Poppins & she delved in to her bag to fetch out a bottle of clear liquid with a red label on it to which she added large splashes of the contents to the complimentary orange juice that had been handed out.  God bless Vladimir Smirnoff!   & there I was thinking you weren’t allowed to take screwdrivers onboard flights anymore!

Eventually the flight took off, then there was an announcement that some one onboard had a severe peanut allergy & passengers should refrain from eating any nuts, all after Floss had broken out her supply of “Packed with peanuts” Snickers bars!  The delay meant the plan to get a bus to the hotel was gone, it was also the end of the itinerary that had been floated earlier in the year!  The Hash’s fortunes were not going to improve as the Taxis duly dropped them off at the Howard Johnson Diplomat Hotel.  Mark E Mark went to reception to book the party in, he was told that there weren’t enough rooms for all of the Hash to stay there!  No wonder such an upmarket hotel was so cheap on the Internet!

While Mark E Mark sorted things out, the majority made their way through the SAGA guests to make use of the facilities in the piano Bar.  Eventually the Hash were all herded up, placed in several mini-buses & driven down the road to a couple of far less luxurious hotels.  The scribe thinks that we are probably not the first party to be lured by the good looking, upmarket luxury rooms on-line, then arrive only to be told that there weren’t enough rooms to be dumped very undiplomatically in a cheap alternative in the chain!  Whatever happened, the Hash were offered a free meal at the Howard Johnson as some kind of compensation, Oh! Ah! Big F*cking deal!

Anyhow, the Pack now decamped in either Fawlty Towers (the Plaza) or the Regency, the “north & south towers” as they became known.  In the lower end of the market the room the RA was billet in wasn’t the cleanest, as Mr. X discovered a mini Leatherman tool & a lot of dirt under the furniture!

Mr. X said that he had stayed in better wooden chalets by the coast back in England!  When he returned at night he had to open the rattling patio window slightly, as the howling winds whistled through the badly fitted window so loudly it kept him awake!  But the balcony room did have a splendid view over the bay, you could even see the Casino where Windsock would win a few Lira!

The southern one of the two towers was slightly more opulent.  There was still drinking time to be had & the Pack all met up in the Regency Bar of the South Tower, to partake in a few sherbets before moving on to a Pizza/Pasta place for an evening meal in a seafront café. 

The squid & octopus starters went down really well, they were easy to deal with but by the time the main course came out, Mr. X seemed to have a mammoth task on his hands to cut the tough stone baked thin base pizza, it ended up flying off of the plate & landing on his leg, leaving a mess similar to what Junior produces on to pavements whenever he has a drink! 

Time to move on & across the road from the restaurant was the Plough & Anchor, this excellent little Bar was now selected as the Hash Base for the weekend!  While the rest were quietly making their way to the Bar with no trouble, behind them Ladean was starting the Maltese Lobster Liberation Front, the details of which would not be known to the rest of the Hash until the Sunday Circle.

The Plough & Anchor (Guy’s Bar) was like being in the Old Curiosity shop, it had a Scottish feel with tartan seats mixed in with the Maltese nautical/fishing paraphernalia.  A huge Craigellachie Distillery mirror dominated one back wall, & behind the Bar there was a grand selection of Whiskeys among the 100 spirits available, “paradise” for Ketch Up, “Doom” for the likes of Junior!   Floss was happy as they had Smirnoff!

In one corner was a shrine to Guy, George the Landlord’s Dad, who opened the Bar in 1978.  1-2-1 found this a little spooky, looking at the clay bust & various paintings of Guy, he couldn’t have been that perturbed as on the next evening visit to the place he went & fell asleep upon the tartan bench seat below!  George was pretty easy going & kept the Bar open as long as the Hash kept parting with their money, he would make a small fortune by the end of the Weekend!

A days worth of drinking had taken its toll on a few, TC looked as if he had passed his “sell by date” & he didn’t want to have his picture taken by Junior.  Ketch Up was feeling the effects of being up “early” (for him) as he nodded off on a stool at the Bar, 1-2-1 decided to plant a kiss on Ketch Up’s bald pate, while Viv pulled off balancing her spirit & coke on his head!

It was finally time to stagger back & get some much needed sleep, well it was for some as 1-2-1 & Ketch Up, (who had no come around) headed toward Valletta to do some Night Clubbing, while Windsock went off to the near by Casino.  Did the Sock didn’t end up in the Blue Moon Gentleman’s club on the way back by any chance?

In the morning, while most were up for Breakfast, the Herts RA was still lazing in his pit & making the most of the respite after doing a lot of long day shifts!  Fortunately for him his roomie took pity on him & left him a bit of ham & a roll before setting off out & about.  This was far better than what Hyena’s roomie had left him with, it was a footprint in the small of his back which was the result of an attempt to stop him from snoring like a chainsaw.  It obviously didn’t work as Number 2 went on to get herself her own room!

By Now it was obvious that the Mark E Mark’s draft Itinerary that had been emailed out in the weeks leading up to this event had gone out of the window.  Everything had been changed & so now the Hash was informed of the day’s event by word of mouth, or txt message!

Friday morning was now a free day, Ryde & Tablewhine had explained “the Pub” was only going to be open on Friday & it was closed for the rest of the weekend due to a funeral, they had already found this out on their earlier reconnoitre as they had been out in Malta for a couple of days before hand.

The majority of the Pack set off to start their sightseeing on the way to “The Pub”, while the likes of Mr. X, TC & Junior, who had all missed breakfast, sat in the café across the road to get set up for the day! The first two ordering full English, while Junior talked down to the waiter by saying very slowly “dooo yoouu dooo beeeanssss oooon tooooast?”  Mr. X told Junior that the waiter does speak English & he was not a child!  The waiter said they did this, it’s on the kid’s menu! (Junior food, how apt!)

While eating, they received a text from Floss saying that “the Pub” would only be open until 16:00Hrs that day, time to get as move on!  TC said that he would have to get some money out on the way, since he hadn’t changed any in the UK.  They ate up & were about to set off to pay homage to Oliver Reed in the place where he died, when 1-2-1 & Ketch Up turned up & held them up for another drink. Bastards!

1-2-1 told the others an amusing tale of getting locked out of his room early in the morning, he failed to wake a sound asleep Ketch up to let him in, 1-2-1 ended up sleeping in the corridor until he could get back in to the room!  Things got better for the RA later on when it was let slip that 1-2-1 had kipped on an outside bench for a while as well!

2-1-2 & Ketch Up said that they were going to Valletta by ferry, getting to Valletta was now going to turn in to a “Top gear” style challenge, with Junior, Mr. X & TC riding the bus into town.  The race was on (cue “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers, the “Top Gear theme” Ketch Up) so Mr. X & co stayed on for another beer while 1-2-1 & Ketch Up walked off to find a ferry.  Once the drinks were poured, the trio in the Bar ordered a cab! Cheats!

On the way to Bishopsgate street, the cab passed by Stand in Shit, Ewok, Paxo but no sign of Floss, Hyena & Number 2.  The short cutting trio soon settled in to the Pub, a small stone built place that is almost like being in a grotto, it is decorated with pictures of Royal Navy ships on one wall, the rest with articles & pictures relating to the late, great Oliver Reed. 

The Girls were asked of which of three photos they preferred.  Most went for the young Oliver, who as Sis said had “Come to bed eyes”, unlike Junior’s red “Scare the cats off of the lawn, red eyes!”  On the tribute wall was a page from a newspaper report about the events leading up to Oliver Reed’s death.  He had beaten six, much younger, Royal Navy sailors at arm wrestling, over the course of the day Oliver Reed had apparently consumed 3 bottles of Captain Morgan, drunk eight bottles of Beer & numerous double Famous Grouses!  Something for some of the Hash to try & attempt!

Mr. X told a tale of when Oliver Reed popped in to the Lytton Arms in Old Knebworth, during a break in filming at Knebworth House.  He bought everyone in there a drink, & knocked back 6 pints in the 20 minute break before returning to the set!  He added that if ever Party to have been to it would have been one of the ones that Oliver Reed held with Keith Moon!  Can you imagine that?

It was while in “the Pub”, that Mr. X found out that there was an International Rugby Match taking place on Saturday, Malta who were ranked 55th (out of 95 nations) by the IRB were taking on Latvia who were almost ten places above them.  Windsock was up for it, so where TC & Junior at the time! 

After several Beers, TC still had yet to retrieve any Lira from a cash machine & he had already been subbed one round, so to remedy the situation he set off to find the nearest ATM.  It took him an age to find one & when he did locate one, he soon found out that he couldn’t get any money out of the hole in the wall!  He wasn’t the only one, Sludge & Stand in Shit also discovered that they couldn’t get any Maltese money out of the ATMs, it took a good day before they found out that it was all down to the type of cards they were using in the ATMs! 

A couple who found it easy to spend money,  especially other peoples, were Floss & Number 2, they were doing their best “Trinny & Susannah” as they took Hyena off first thing to dress him with a bit more style!  There is a saying that “You can’t make a purse out of a sow’s ear!” but they did get him some “safety pants” that miraculously stayed up without revealing the old “Builder’s cleavage” when he bent over!  They had bought him a belt that isn’t just an ornament, it actually works!

So, where did they take him to blow over £200?  Marks & Spencer’s of course!  Ironically there’s M&S Outlet centre in the Galleria, in Hatfield, just across from where he lives back home!

Still on the subject of money, by now the Maltese Lira had been rechristened, no doubt due to a Hyena-ism.  Stand in Shit had picked up on it & soon everybody was spending Limas instead of Lira!  Oh well!

1-2-1 arrived with Ketch Up after their ferry trip across the bay, which docked a long way from the Pub & left them with a bit of a hike to “The Pub” but at least 1-2-1 had his little Berlitz guide to assist them getting to the venue!  Mr. X, Junior & TC made out that they had got the Bus to the Pub, eventually they let on that they cheated with a Cab!  1-2-1 was not impressed!  Nor was he when he found out that his tour he had planned around the local vicinity with his little guide book wouldn’t take place as he expected, the Landlord explained that most of the historic old “seedy Bars” & “knocking shops” that used to populate this area were consigned to the past!

Junior was happy to have his picture taken on the bench opposite the “Oliver Reed Shrine” wall, the wall behind Junior had photos of various Royal Navy Ships, & a few of the HMS cap bands on the bench  that have been in Malta.  He wanted this as his Dad was out in Malta during the War, but said there was no HMS Marne cap band there!  Well, during the Second World War all Sailors wore just HMS on their bands as not to let the enemy know what Ship was where! 

Shame Junior’s dad didn’t leave an unpaid Bar bill for his son to pick up 60 years later, just think of the interest on that?  It would eat away at the old redundancy!  Time for a “Panda Fact” for NSC Panda, the “All the surface vessels in the Royal Navy are ships, the only “Boats” in the Royal Navy are Submarines!”

The Pack began to head home to leave a hardcore of four to carry on their own when the Pub closed.  They did attempt to get TC some money out of an ATM but they too failed, so they turned their attention to finding another Bar but soon discovered that it wasn’t that easy to locate one, after quiet awhile wandering the almost deserted small streets of Valletta, they eventually stumbled upon a few locals to ask.

A Guinness Bar made a change from drinking Cisk, another bonus was after the second round they were given some free tapas of some tomato & basil bread.  It was more than likely that the waitress thought that a bit food would sober them up a little!  Soon it was time to head off & meet up for Dinner, the easiest way was by Taxi & one was ordered to transport Junior, Hyena, Mr. X & TC back to base. 

The Hash met up in the Regency Bar in the South Tower again, to tie the hungry over for the time the aperitifs were knocked back in the hotel Bar, Panda had some rather nice dried tomatoes to munch on.  Eventually the Hash were whisked away for the free “apology” Birthday meal back at the Howard Johnson Hotel.  The Hash soon realised that this was a lot more up market than either of the other two they were now based at!  It was the type of establishment that would have Lobster on the menu, but thankfully the Hash were only helping themselves from the Carvery section & the peace was kept with the L.L.F!

The food was excellent at the buffet, the wine wasn’t bad either but it should have been as we paid for it, they weren’t giving that much away at the Howard Johnson!  Ryde & Tablewhine had already been to venue earlier to decorate it with various nefarious pictures of Mark E Mark, in the basement restaurant it looked like the “Rogues gallery” part on Crimewatch!  Will Rav Wilding be looking for Mark E Mark on TV?  It was a surprise that the pictures on the glass tiled walls were enough to put the old farts off of their soup & Complan!  Though Sludge & Skip seemed to healthily tuck in to their grub with no effect!

The weather had not improved after the meal, it was wet & blowing a gale as the Pack braved the elements in wandered back to the busy Plough & Anchor.  Though Psycho was brave enough to keep popping out every so often with TC for a puff!

It was in the Plough & Anchor that Windsock & Mr.X met up with Brian, an elderly Welshman who Mr. X could talk Rugby to, sometime in the conversation it was mentioned about the Malta versus Latvia International & Brian was invited to meet Windsock & Mr. X in the Plough & Anchor at noon the next day, where they would get a Taxi to the Hibs football ground.

The wee hours soon came & the Plough & Anchor began resemble Arkright’s as it seemed to be open all hours, mind you, who in their right mind would close with the Hash putting so much money behind the Bar? 

Mr. X did at one point promise Psycho that he would go to Gozo, forsaking the Rugby match, but he should have known better as he wouldn’t fore fill this & instead would get his Rugby Fix!  Windsock said he wasn’t going to Gozo as had been there before, for his Honeymoon for his failed Marriage!

Saturday Morning saw an early start for most, Ryde & Tablewhine had planned the trip out to Gozo for the Hash, Mr. X & Windsock were exempt & reaped the benefit of not having to get up early for breakfast in order to get on a Bus at 08:30 Hrs! 

A jolly band of Hashers set off to visit Malta’s smaller cousin of Gozo, as the old public Bus took the scenic, but a very turning & twisting route to the port a couple of the party were soon not feeling so jolly.  By the time the bus had reached it terminus at the ferry port, Floss wasn’t feeling very good at all, having put up with the diesel fumes & rough ride on the Bus, the prospect of boarding a ferry with more diesel fumes & rocking motions soon became too frightening & a queasy Floss opted out of going to Gozo.

The rest of the Pack boarded, they tried to persuade Floss to go with them but she couldn’t manage the crossing.  Sis was one who tried to encourage Floss to go over, in hindsight she may have wished that she too had stayed on Malta as the ferry journey would take its toll & she would be sick, she would also fall off of her seat & how long did it take her to realise that she had gone all the way to the port with only one lens in her sunglasses?  Perhaps she could blame it on the Wine & Cheese tasting on Gozo?

Hyena’s time on Gozo wasn’t going to be that comfortable either, after spending all that money on new clothes, he neglected to take a coat with him.  He got to feel the full force of the wind, rain & large hailstones as the party took in the Island’s sights, including a pile of rocks that is supposed to be a stone womb?

Meanwhile Mr. X’s sleep was disturbed by a text from Floss, she had just about made it back from the ferry to the hotel, she endured another bus journey, disembarked & was almost home when she finally threw up in the hotel’s front hedge!  She had now decided to get a few more hours kip before joining Mr. X, Windsock & Brian for a day at the International Rugby match!

The Rugby party met up in the Plough & Anchor, & after a couple of quick snifters, a Cab came to take them to the match.  Junior & TC were left in the Plough & Anchor, they opted out of the Rugby & were now planning to go over the road for another breakfast, as they had again missed the one the hotel provides, then it was on to a Pub Crawl for them.

The Taxi driver had a bit of a job to find the Hibs football stadium, which was not surprising as it was found perched on the edge of a outcrop, hidden behind a large, bland walled area that could have been a prison.  It was the four large yellow Cisk banners blowing in the wind that gave away the Stadium’s position.

Match tickets were available a two prices, there were ML 3.50 or ML 10!  The lower price was opted for as it didn’t seem to be worth the extra ML 6.50 for the executive package which gave you the privilege of standing under a large umbrella at one end of the ground while the wind blew the rain in on you.

The party fitted in with the locals & went for a sausage in a roll & chips each, the owner of the takeaway wagon must have fancied Floss as found that she had beans she had never asked for in with her sausage!  It was time to enter the stadium, get a Beer & sit in the only stand the stadium had.  The atmosphere inside was brilliant as the Hashers & Brian made their way right up to the centre area, they sat on the “Up market” part of the concrete steps that had backless plastic seats.  This was beside the heart of the most enthusiastic of the home support of the “Southend Core” no wonder Windsock was drawn to sit at that end!

The locals must have had a dozen drums, this rhythmical banging was accompanied by the rest clapping inflatable tubes together, then the chanting started.  Most of the songs were in Maltese & one in particular soon had a certain Harriette’s attention, Floss was joining in as the chant that sounded like “V for Vodka!” rang out, it was probably “Viva Malta” the locals were singing but the Hash preferred the misinterpretation!

After a series of red flares blazed away beside the Hashers, the drumming stopped for the National Anthems, both of which were pretty flamboyant to say the least & the Latvian one was pretty long as well, it was like listening to a Wagner opera!  It soon dawned on the watching Hashers that most of the Maltese team didn’t sing along, a quick scan through the complimentary programme showed that most of the team played their Rugby in England, their English sounding names explained why they didn’t know the Maltese anthem.

The weather conditions became pretty dire, not that this dampened down the enthusiasm of the Southend Core, nor the two DJ’s out on the pitch rousing the Fans.  Add to all of this the catchy North African sounding sound bite used in the Ruby World Cup in France 2007, it was going to be a great day.

The playing ability is obviously not in the same league as the Premiership games Mr. X enjoys back home, a few of the Kicks for penalties & conversions were not the best seen, as Floss put it in a demonstration of her lack of Rugby knowledge “They could do with a Johnny Walker out there!” She was corrected by the other three that she meant Johnny Wilkinson & had confused him with a brand of Scotch, which proves she knows her drinks but not her No.10s!

The weather turned & a tempest blew in, the shelter of the stand was now compromised as the wind direction changed & blew the rain water from off of the asbestos roof, out of the guttering & in behind the crowd.  The sudden gust sprayed the back of the supporters, startling them as they were showered with cold precipitation!  The Three Hashers wondered how the others were getting on over on Gozo?

Malta started the better of the two teams, then went through a lack lustre middle period before they rallied around to take a lead, one that they would never relinquish for the rest of the game.  Cheered on by Mr. X, who Saracen’s Fez Boys Shirt is the same colours of Red, White & Black to match the Maltese colours, Windsock who’s multi-coloured outfit made him look like a new Club Mascot, Floss (who can’t tell Scotch from England’s No.10) & Brian, the Maltese won 16-13 in a game that they weren’t supposed to if the IRB ranking are to be believed.  They have since been moved up to 50th the joint highest ever position.  The next home International is against Poland in May 2008!

As the quartet waited for their taxi to come & pick them up, a couple of the locals packing up the Rugby shirts & affiliated Maltese merchandise, offered them a lift back.  This kind offer wasn’t taken up, however the other offer of free large glasses of wine most definitely was accepted & appreciated!

The Hash again met up in the Plough & Anchor, by this time in the late afternoon Junior was AWOL from the usual suspects!  Stand in Shit explained to Mr. X how he had to escort Junior back to the near by Hotel, after Junior had set off to his room but came back saying he couldn’t find the Hotel!  You had to laugh when Stand in Shit added that Junior was like a pin-ball for the couple of hundred yards back to the Hotel, he bounced off of the metal poles for two streets signs, one of which was left a an angle, a Bus stop & the “specials board” out the basement Restaurant beneath the hotel!  Junior’s “Tilt” sign was definitely illuminated!

Paxo & Ewok’s absence was also noted by the RA, it transpired that they were back in Valletta enjoying a night club full of Sailors! (or was it a Village People night?)  Let’s hope that it was the really the Navy, as there are a lot of Bars in Malta that cater for those who are “sexually confused”!

They would miss out on Floss, Mr. X & Windsock educating the rest on the “V for Vodka Song!” After a chant of this the said drink had to be sampled!  All of which didn’t go down too well with the Hooker & Number 8 from the Latvian Rugby team, who managed to make their way to the Plough & Anchor, Mr. X bought them a beer to help alleviate their loss at the Rugby!  It seemed to work!

Panda was informed by Mr. X that the clock he had seen the day before, which was counting down to 0000 in the centre of a prominent roundabout, was not to count down the time to the New Year, but when Malta join the Euro on the 1st of January 2008!  Same difference you would have thought?

Hyena was pretty well pissed as well, was it Gozo Wine & Cheese?  But he kept going a lot longer than Junior could manage!  Hyena’s drunken state manifested itself in sloppy outpouring of affection to some of the male members of the Hash, between slurring “You’re my mate you are!” to the RA!  The RA moved back to the relative safety by Floss at the Bar!  Hyena turned his attention to My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead, who was sitting beside him! 

My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead soon felt uncomfortable as Hyena pawed him (we don’t want to encourage that sort of thing on the Hash!)  Hyena was obviously amused by this & he wouldn’t let up, but by midnight it had become too much for My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead & he got up to escape this attention to promptly head back to his room & barracked himself in!

Meanwhile 1-2-1 had found himself a new “Top Tune” after he had now been discovered several times trying to sleep in various strange & random places, it was deemed that R.E.M’s “Loosing my Religion” was very apt for him with the lines of “That’s me in the corner”.  Mr. X noticed that 1-2-1 seemed to have a preference to fall asleep on tartan, as he nodded off on one of the tartan bench seats!  Was this due to him being put down to sleep on tartan travel rugs as a kid?

Sunday was the day of the Trail, & being respectful of other people’s religious values, & Junior’s hangover, it wasn’t going to start until late, allowing the Hash to get to a Bar at opening time!  The Pack gathered in the hotel lobby only to find the Hares of Ryde & Tablewhine where nowhere to be seen!  

Sis had brought along & cut up Mark E Mark’s Birthday cake to dispense among the Pack, somehow it was forgotten after the meal at the Howard Johnson Diplomat to celebrate his Birthday, it was all a bit messy with chocolate all over fingers & faces!  Well the Hash is just like a bunch of big kids, but who can legally buy alcohol

The Pack was eager to get on with things, though it was hard to tell from the state of some of them!  Junior had surfaced & probably looked better than most, but then he had enjoyed the extra hours to sleep it off!

Still without Hares, the Pack decided that they should venture out on to the streets & look for the start of the Trail, Skip seemed to know that the Trail began on the narrow road between the two Hotels.  As the Pack set off up the hillside, the Hares came walking back down toward them, the Hash came to a halt as the believed that they were heading the wrong way.  The Hash weren’t going in the wrong direction, the Hares gave a quick brief to inform everyone that it would not be a long Trail, the Keenies were then allowed to set off again, not that there were many rushing away! 

Most of the Pack took their time in wandering up the back streets, by the looks of things the previous day’s exploits had taken their toll.  The Trail passed by a Gun shop, which excited Junior, Mr. X came out with a “Panda Fact” that there are more shot guns per head of population in Malta than anywhere else in Europe, so Junior was warned that he should not mess with the local women! 

The Trail turned to the right to take the Hash through the rabbit warren of narrow streets in Europe’s most populated country per square mile, many of the small homes look as if they are stacked upon each other like Lego blocks!  Those who could manage to trot faster than a walking pace were caught out by a series of False Trails, the Hares also made good use of the bridges to take the Trail up & down the various street levels.  2-1-2 Maureen was surprised that the Trail would go up to the higher level, “Surely it can’t go up there!” she declared, but it did!

Eventually after half an hour the Trail came to Saddles Bar, Junior & TC had already been there the day before, as well as “Tony’s” across the road, no doubt tempted over as it looked like Phil Mitchells garage in the “arches” in Eastenders!  Had the Mitchell Brothers been in there?

In Saddles the Hash had a free drink out of the remains of the kitty, this would also cover the Down-Downs & nearly everyone received one of these!  1-2-1 couldn’t believe that the Trail was over in just over half an hour, he wanted to know what was going to happen for the rest of the day?  Well, it was quite simple, a piece of chalk was going to be handed to a member of the Pack & they would go off to mark the Trail to another Bar, the Hash would go there & have beer, then the whole process would start again to another Bar!  He was “Well made up” with this idea & volunteered his services to be the first start things rolling to the next Bar!

The Down-Downs were kicked off by rewarding Ryde & Tablewhine for setting a magnificent Trail, the RA then had Hyena out for his snoring causing his roomie to have to evacuate the decibel level & get herself her own room, Number 2 was called out to join him for leaving Hyena on his own!  Junior was out for his having to be escorted home by Stand in Shit, bouncing off for the street furniture along the way!  Stand in Shit was out for booking a weekend off of work four week’s early than the trip out to Malta!

The RA’s attention moved around to the Grand Monkey & Ewok, who were “In the Navy” with the Village People & dancing along with the Sailors at the night club (or was it YMCA?)!  1-2-1 was out for sleeping on an outside bench, then in the corridor of the hotel when he could wake Ketch Up!  Ketch Up was out for sleeping through his mate hammering on the door!

1-2-1 Maureen was out for something that actually happened on the Trail, she received her Hit for saying “It can’t go up there!” when the Trail ascended a flight of steps to a bridge connecting two parts of the layers of houses crammed on to the Island.  Sis was out next for falling off her seat, being ill but mainly for wearing her sunglasses with only one lens in on the Gozo Trip, “Ah, ha, there be pirates out in then there straights!” declared the RA as he handed her, her Down-Down!

Panda got his for doubting one of the “Panda fact” that leaf cutter, soldier & carpenter ants are used to stitch up wounds in India & South America, they make them bite the wound closed & then pull their bodies away from the head, now the jaws on the detached head now cannot open & hold the wound closed like a stitch!

Then the RA’s attention turned to Mark E Mark & Dee, here a tale the Animal Liberation Front would be proud of came to be told, not that it was a secret by now!  Kylie, Mark E Mark & Dee were walking around the bay on the first evening, when they passed by a restaurant that had a fish tank outside.  On display in the tank were a couple of small fish & a solitary lobster, Dee asked why the lobster was in the tank?  She was horrified to hear that this was on display to be eaten by the Restaurant’s customers.  When it was further explained that the lobster would be killed by dropping it in to boiling water she freaked!

Mark E Mark continued walking on, so he didn’t see that Dee had stopped, plunged her hand in to the tank & fished out the lobster, she then hid it under her coat & walked away with it!  Unlike Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape” this lobster was going to taste freedom, for a little further back around toward the Hotel, by the diving centre in the bay, the lobster had the bands removed from its claws & was unceremoniously lobbed over the sea wall & in to the Mediterranean!  Kylie couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed, he & Mark E Mark disowned Lobby Lobster on the way back to the hotel!

All of which went un-noticed by the waiters in the Restaurant, which was lucky as when the Hash passed by the Restaurant again, Lobster was on the menu for 30 ML (nearly £40).  Some lucky diving instructor probably couldn’t believe his luck the following morning when he found £40 worth of lobster stuck in the training area!  Panda Fact: the Lobsters have band son their claws no to stop the waiters getting nipped but to stop them from eating each other, they are cannibalistic!

Of course this couldn’t go by with out Dee being christened with a Hash name of “Lobby Lobster”, Dee seemed pretty happy that she now has a Hash name!  Floss was out for her comment at the Rugby about Johnny Walker, her new chant of “V for Vodka” & the best of all that there were an awful lot of St John’s ambulance’s members at the game, who Mr. X pointed out where all carrying handcuffs, pepper sprays & some even had pistols!

Windsock got his Down-Down for winning & “coming out on top” after his visit to one of the local Casinos & returning to Malta after having the Honeymoon of his failed marriage there!   Mark E Mark received his Hit for dragging everyone away to Malta, he was joined by My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead for that very weekend back in the UK was “Children in need!” weekend, so Mark E Mark saved the “Cheapskates” from having to dip in to their pockets & hand over their money to some idiot in crap fancy dress back in Blighty!

The RA was not exempt from a Down-Down & he received his from the Curate, Flip Top, this was for wearing the same Rugby top for three days!  Well, Mr. X actually has more than one of these tops but only brought one out to Malta, he didn’t expect it to be that cold he would have to wear it repeatedly over fresh T-shirts all the time he was outside!  Paxo then produced the Hashit from the dirty old Pizza Hut bag he had been carrying around all morning, the RA was awarded the filthy old rag of the Hashit!  This final Down-Down closed the Circle.

1-2-1 was overjoyed to take the piece of chalk to start the first part of the Pub Crawl leg of the Hash, off he went down the steps & proceeded to chalk his way around the adjacent roundabout to head up in to the hill, within a few minutes he was seen coming back down to the Saddles where the rest of the Pack were supping up.  He was a bit disappointed as it was a Sunday & a lot of Bars he & Ketch Up had been over the previous two days were closed!

The new Hare was a little unhappy that the rest of the Hash set off but didn’t go around the roundabout as the Trail was marked but instead they just cut straight across the front of it, passing by one of Floss’s St John’s Police Stations, to wandered up to Dick’s Bar.  There the Hash took over the small establishment, there was still enough of the whip left to purchase a drink for the whole Hash, suddenly on the Bar’s TV R.E.M’s “Loosing my Religion” started, the Pack’s desire to have the sound turned up & the Landlord complied, there was a lot of off-key singing along, especially from Herts Hash resident Karaoke DJ, Zing-a-long-a-max!

Eventually the music was turned down, the Hash realized it was time to move on & so 1-2-1 scuttled away to mark the Trail to the next Pub.  Now, the Pack hit the streets & were somewhat shocked to wander around to a CHK!  A CHK on a Pub Crawl Trail, what was going on?  It seemed that 1-2-1 had been properly informed & so the shocked Pack now had to search for the continuation of the Trail, which meant “Drinking a lot of wasting time!” (No Zing-a-long-a-max, that is the way I intended to write it!)

It was time for another “Panda Fact” from Mr. X, which were now limited to just one a day in order not to overwhelm poor old NSC Panda’s grey matter!  The fact was that Stella Artois is brewed & named to celebrate the Star the Magi (three wise men) followed to Bethlehem!

The Pack made their way around to the next Bar, by this time many where getting hungry so it was no surprise that a few broke off from the Trail when the Bar explained that they were not doing any food on Sunday!  However, the landlord was good enough to supply some cheese & biscuits for free!  This great gesture was appreciated by those who had gone & sat in the low lower terrace garden, especially as they became isolated when the rain began to lash down.

Mark E Mark, Lobby Lobster, Viv & Panda came back with (Lobster free) Kebabs, they sat up on a balcony away from the ravenous rabble below, but this wasn’t far enough away to stop the others from feeling the pangs of hunger.   It was time to move around to the Scotsman Pub & consume some food, so off the pack went in dribs & drabs to follow the arrows until they reached one with “Top Tunes” written by it just around the corner from the Scotsman Pub

At least the hungry Hashers could listen to the selections on the Jukebox that 1-2-1 had chosen from a vast amount of dross on the CDs it held.  It seemed to be a bit tricky task to get the Jukebox to work properly, the Barmaid had to help out to get things going!

The first couple of songs weren’t too bad (not quite “Top tunes”) but then to the RA’s horror he discovered that Junior had let the “cat out of the bag” to 1-2-1 while they were perusing the hit list, the old blabber let slip that Mr. X doesn’t like Phil Collins!  So, 1-2-1 not only goes & puts on a couple dire Phil Collins’ songs, he also gets down on one knee beside the RA & proceeds to serenade him with the lyrics! (How gay was that?)

None of this put the RA off of his fish & chips when they arrived, very nice it was too!  Zing-a-long-a-max came in for some food, but as it was now near last orders for grub he soon found that there was no fish left for his veggie palate & so he ended up tucking in to a plate of chips!

Having eaten up, Mr. X took his turn at selecting a few tracks on the Jukebox, Ryde & Tablewhine were among those who were surprised hear Phil Collins sing “A groovy kind a love” in the RA’s selection!  Mr. X explained that it was a cover version, they were then asked to guess who originally sung it?  Wayne Fontana & the Mind Benders was the answer! 

Another of Mr. X’s selections was the Move’s “Fire brigade” that he had put on to cheer up Stand in Shit as they were a Black Country group.  Viv seemed impressed that Mr.X knew all of the words to the song, which a more than 1-2-1 could sing-a-long to as he was now asleep across one of the restaurant’s Tartan bench seats!

On the way back Floss & a few of the others enquired about having the Evening Meal at one of the many restaurants the Hash passed by, but it seems that most were too up market & may sell lobster dishes, or fully booked with locals, or just plain shut on a Sunday!  In the end most of the Hash ended up in the Restaurant below the Hotel.

Most turned up for the meal, & they were happy to wait as the staff wanted to serve the whole party at the same time.  On the down side every time the front door opened those at one end of the table felt a very cold wind come through, must have been installed by the same glaziers who fitted the patio doors in the hotel?  On the plus side, the Hash could relax as there was no Lobster on the Menu!

The usual Hash banter kept the hungry Hashers going until the meal was brought out, though at cold end of the table TC began to sound like a scratched record as ran out of patience, he kept saying “If I don’t get my food soon, I am going to the Pub!”  Some expressed a wish that he did go to the Pub & leave them in peace!  What happened to TC’s quotes to Hyena of “It’s all about me, me, me with you!” or “There’s no I in team!”????

Perhaps TC was moaning because he was missing his mate Junior, who wasn’t present at the meal as solids don’t agree with him when he’s had a couple drinks!  He missed out, as the food was really good, especially the fried goat’s cheese, Skip was now an expert on Goats Cheese & he claimed that it probably came from Gozo!  Wherever it was from, let’s hope Hyena didn’t have any of that as he reckons cheese gives him nightmares!  Not mirrors then?

Psycho tried to tally up & collect the bill, Zing-a-long-a-max kept poking his nose in & interrupting her train of thought as he queried what the price would be as he wanted to make sure he only paid for what he ate.  He wouldn’t let it lie & she soon started to look as if she would soon have little jets of steam emanating from her aural orifices! 

Things went from bad to worse, though not known at the time as the well Feb Hashers were ignorant of hw many were at the weekend, Floss tried to work out how many Hashers would be taking a minibus to the airport, she asked Psycho how many there were in the Party flying out in the Monday evening.  Psycho worked it out & told Floss 26, it actually worked out at 28 of the party of 33, so the transport was booked for 24!  In hindsight the Birthday Boy should have had a list already prepared! (It’s now Mark E Mark’s fault for not organizing that or an itinerary)

Back at the Plough & Anchor, here Slimer finally admitted that it could have been his Hash antics that just may have just been the catalyst that caused the split of the Hare & Hounds from Herts all those years ago!  Tell us something we don’t know!

The TV in the corner of the of the Plough & Anchor was tuned in to VH1, here 1-2-1 enjoyed the videos being played, it seemed that there would be a couple of “Top Tunes!” played then a “How gay is that Tune!” put in between to curb 1-2-1’s enthusiasm!  He even got to hear his “Favourite Tune of all time!” several times in fact, it started off as 808 State’s “Pacific State” but soon digressed to other songs until Ketch Up pulled him up on having only one favourite tune of all time.

As for Ketch Up, well he seems to have missed out most of the 80’s, there is a large void where that decade should be, he didn’t recall half of the known acts let alone the lesser successful ones, luckily he had Mr. X there to tell him who they were.  For Mr.X it was a game of name the group or Artists by the intro before the names appeared on the screen!

Junior was happy to hear Motörhead’s classic “Ace of Spades” which prompted him to repeat the lyrics of “I know I am going to loose, & gambling is for fools, that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live for ever!” for the rest of the night!  To say it was a bit monotonous would be an understatement, but there were some there who were almost prepared to help him out with the “I don’t want to live for ever!” Bit!

Although semi-comatose state at the Bar, Mark E Mark suddenly sprang in to life as he noticed a strange similarity between Ketch Up & Tim Brooke-Taylor as they sat beneath the large “Smuggler’s whisky” mirror, he reckoned that they looked like father & son!  It was alarming how right he was, Tim Brooke-Taylor then called out “Son!” to Ketch Up, the Pack laughed.

Tim Brooke-Taylor suddenly became the life & soul of the Party, 1-2-1 was at the opposite side of the scale as he slumped on to the tartan bench seat, tilted over & fell asleep!  T-B-T would now entertain the Pack when a chair was placed in the middle of the Bar, Floss & Lobby Lobster walked up on to & off of the stool as if they were stepping up at an aerobics class, but it was Tim Brooke-Taylor’s energetic performance to the music that stole the show when he took his turn in going over the stool!  Calls of “Who’s the Daddy!” soon echoed around the Bar as the Pack appreciated his efforts!

The Plough & Anchor didn’t seem to want to close, not as Mr. X had the last of the Guinness & everyone was now on shorts & mixers, the Guvnor is probably now on a World Cruise with the takings he made over the weekend!  Some time after 03:00Hrs the last of the pack finally drifted away!

The last day was a free day, so there was no rush everyone could do things at a “Hyena’s pace”, which was handy in the Fawlty Tower as the lift up to breakfast had broken down!  Manuel was nowhere to be seen!  Mr. X was after him to borrow a stapler to put the Herts Trash together, but as he could not be found it would have to wait!  As Floss said “In Milton Keynes Hash, if no one writes a report, no Trash! Simple as that!” which shows how lucky Herts are to still be one of the few Hashes to get a printed hard copy almost every week!

The Hash would all go off to do their own thing, one group of Viv, Panda, Ewok, Kylie & Number 2 went off to go horse riding, giddy up there!  Flip Top & Sis went off on one of his little cultural tours, he said they would probably go to a few Museums & maybe view some of the Caravaggio’s on display, but others thought that they were really going to “Popeye Village”  “Ilse saves yer Olive Sis!”  It was a shame that the museum on Flip Top’s tour would be shut & they too would end up visiting Medina!

Caravaggio 1571- 1610 was a bit of a brawler, he spent some time in Malta after fleeing from Rome with a price on his head for murder after one such brawl.  He became painter to the Knights of Malta & subsequently received a pardon for the Murder he committed.  He painted “Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” in Malta, the only one to bear his signature!  After another fight in which a Knight was seriously wounded, he was imprisoned & later expelled from the Order as “A foul & rotten member!” But he escaped & fled again, this time to Sicily.  Whereas Popeye, 1927- present day, only beat up bad guys & mainly Bluto, he was banned in Singapore (in case he taught bad English grammar to the children) but all he ever painted was a ship! However, Popeye does have a statue to him in spinach growing Crystal City, Texas!

Any hoo!  The majority split in to small groups & headed out to Medina to see the Cathedral there. En route the Bus passed by the National Soccer Stadium, which must be a nightmare to get in & out of as it is built in the middle of nowhere & has only small B roads as its access!

Also on the way the Bus passed by the Mosta Dome, where a “Miracle” occurred in 1942 when a German bomb pierced the domed roof, failed to explode & slid along the floor still without going off!  The Bomb is displayed in a small building next to the Church!  

Inside the walled city of Medina (the Silent City) the Hashers found that it was very serene.  My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead had been there years before & said that they have no cars there.  Mr. X was surprised that when they turned to corner three cars parked up!

The small groups of Hashers all made their way to the St Paul’s Cathedral, name after the Apostle who was said to have been shipwrecked there in 60 AD.  The settlement dates back to over 4000 BC, whe the Phoenicians lived there, it was named by the 9th Century Sicilian Arabs then living there.

Opposite the Cathedral was a museum with a couple of worthy exhibits, one was a great display of coins of those who have traded through Malta through out the ages, but most impressive was the collection of original wood carvings, etchings & prints by Albrecht Dürer 1471- 1528.  Tim Brooke-Taylor was most impressed by Mr. X’s knowledge on the subject, but as Printing is Mr. X cover story he would have to be well up on the subject!

Having wandered around the Cathedral itself, it was time for a bite to eat & a beer before going on to St Paul’s Catacombs, all after a quick wee stop at a public toilet, there Floss was unimpressed when she was handed one square of toilet paper as she went into the ladies!  If she went in their a few dozen times she may have enough paper to have a dump!

The tour of Medina would not be complete without a visit to the Catacombs, the “Most Haunted” place in Malta!  While My Lil Sperm ‘ead & 1-2-1 opted out of the descent in to the dark tunnels & went back to find a Bar, the rest of the Party descended the steps to follow our very own daft blonde Yvette Fielding (Floss) down in to the catacombs.

It was a cold experience in the part natural cave system, & part that had been carved out to make burial chambers.  In the half-light the Hash followed the tour, a few braved it to break away from the marked route, Mr. X & Mark E Mark couldn’t believe how far these chambers go in to the rock!  Some hollows had shallows cut out in the ledges for bodies to be laid to rest in, they came in all sizes from infants to adults!

As for it being the most haunted place in Malta & the Hash seeing any thing spooky goings on?  Well you didn’t have to be a member of Mystery Inc to realise that no Spirits would be hanging about after hearing about what Floss (& the rest of the Hash) had done to the spirits in the Plough & Anchor!

Time for a Beer back at the small Bar, were the walls were decorated with Man City & Bolton Wanders shirts & memorabilia.  Here the Hash opted for a German Lager, were some developing a “Cisk Cough”?  It was pleasant to watch the world go by in this quiet, small ancient part of town that seemed to be mainly made up of Chapels & catacombs.

The Hash would get one of the last Public Busses home from Medina, the Bus stop was situated by a strange elongated roundabout below the city walls, across the road from this were a line of lollipop looking trees with dense green foliage, from within this was a cacophony of shrill din of bird song.  My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead said that he too would buy a shot gun if he lived there & join in with the Maltese custom of shooting any avian that should stray within his sights!  It supposed to be against the EU laws for the locals to shoot any wild bird, as apart of their joining clauses!

After enough Culture was had to satisfy any Vulture, it was off to join 1-2-1 & My Lil’ Sperm ‘ead for a couple of beers before catching a Bus back.  Having stored bags in the reception of the Hotel, those who had a quick Beer in the Regency Bar soon joined the rest of the pack to meet up for one final drink, which involved going all the way to the Bar directly across the road, as half of the Hash were already over there! 

Some took the opportunity to have a snack before leaving, Floss ordered chips but when she received them she complained that they were cooked in hydrogenated oil!  Still you how she looks after her body, never abusing it with Vladimir Smirnoff!  Soon it was time to go & catch the mini bus.

Mr. X had a surprise as he was the last to leave the Café Bar, the waiter stopped him & said that someone hadn’t paid their bill!  He was left to stump up for 2 large lagers & two large Red Wines!  Ouch!  Things didn’t improve when the mini buses arrived, it soon became obvious that there was one too many to fit in & the Maltese drivers wouldn’t accept an extra body without a seat!

In the end Floss & Mr. X sent the two mini buses away & they got a cab to the airport!  All of which seemed to be enjoyed by Zing-a-long-a-max who kept asking if there was something wrong with the transport arrangements, they said no to the one who was getting the Public Bus to the Airport to save a couple of Lira!  The now weary Pack lolled about at the Airport Bar before sleeping on the flight home.

The mini bus journey back was a bit of a cock up with Hyena not directing Trevor out before the Hatfield tunnel, so the long route was taken & even then they got off at a roundabout further away from his home than they needed to!  Sperm ‘ead wanted to get off next, but he had to wait a few more minutes as the RA over-ruled this for he was the only one going to work in the morning!

An excellent time was had by all, I was going to add that the next 40th Birthday away weekend should be in a warmer climate, but it looks like Ketch Up in Berwick & Edinburgh over New Years 2008/9!