Nick, Graham, Wendy, Jim, Prudence, David, Chris, Anne, Mick, Angela D
Warning. This report contains a word that some Clarionistas may find offensive.
Various Clarionistas assembled in front of Palace Pier and joyfully welcomed our bi-partisan leadership duo, Nick and Graham. The first part of the ride was nice and flat but the volley ball courts and zip wire emplacements failed to offer any shelter from the chill north easterly wind. Sensibly our gallant leaderly pair had decided on an early stop for warming coffee, but then it was decided with much about turning and circumlocutions along the sea walls that perhaps it was too early. So off we set again, until a suitable coffee stop with loos was found, although even then it wasn’t entirely clear if we were stopping, standing, dawdling or just milling around getting in everybody else’s way. Still this is the right of Clarionistas everywhere and no amount of bustling walkers or harried buggy-pushing parents would do us out of our time honoured rituals of indecision.
A little while later came – and here I ask impressionable and sensitive readers to turn away now – our first up****. This was but a paltry slope compared to what, unannounced, was to follow, so we unsuspectingly followed one, both or neither (my memory is vague here) of our gallant leaders up the cliff side.
Reaching the top of the cliff there proved to be an energy defying, soul-sapping and possibly for the weaker amongst us, life threatening series of hills. As you know, one aims for accuracy and precision in these reports and it is for this reason I have had to break our customary taboo against this iniquitous word, which I know sends shudders of fear, terror and loathing through all stout-hearted Clarionistas; but it was as I tell it; in future reports I do so hope that this word will be again thoroughly retired from lack of necessity and not have to ever again be introduced into Clarionista parlance.
On we laboriously pedalled, not quite in the tight formation of an elegant peloton but rather more as a long line of stragglers, dawdlers and loiterers until it became obvious that we had perhaps managed to find our group in several different places without a coherent narrative of progress. One leader decided to contact the other leader by means of a brilliant outdoor communicative device; I think it was something about two tin cans with a long string between them. Well unfortunately maybe the string wasn’t taut enough, or the cans were the wrong sort of metal, but the device didn’t seem to work. Nothing daunted a few Clarionistas went in one direction and others in another, and we all went round in circles until we met up in the middle, which in this case turned out to be Telscombe Tye and a bemused woman was prevailed upon to take a photograph of the entire troop together.
Sadly, more hills were to follow but somehow or other even the wheeziest and droopiest among us found our way into Lewes, and gaining a little more alacrity in our pace, managed to make our way to The Snowdrop Inn.
Indecision, vacillation and uncertainty are a core part of the Clarion experience, and, once in the pub, we were not deprived of partaking in these excellent amusements. We were at this table; no, we were at the one opposite. We had a table reserved, but it was not the table that was reserved for us, but an alternative table that was reserved upstairs, or as they say in certain superstitious incantations ‘in another place’ that most of the group were unable to find. Once some sort of table was satisfactorily colonised people did insist on changing places, a stray member had to be rounded up and returned to the herd, lost gloves had to be identified, all the food had to be photographed and strawberry beer had to be replaced by Sussex cider.
Some rather wild talk was heard over lunch, particularly after several further refreshing glasses of the pink beverage, about a return trip to Brighton in the dark via Black Cap and the South Downs, and indeed it is believed that some members leapt on their bicycles to return home at the pedal. One of that group returned later, like the last little boy in The Pied Piper, to recount sorrowfully how the cyclists she had been accompanying had been swallowed up by the black mountain but that she had been left behind to tell the tale. It is to be hoped fervently that at some point the wanderers are returned once again to the bosom of the Clarion fold.
This confirmed a general decision that the train might be the best means of finding our warm beds in Brighton and Hove, though even this produced confusion as the writer of this piece was heard to go off muttering about how she had to get to Five Dials, or Seven Ways, or Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Many thanks to Graham and Nick for devising and leading this excellent trip and the £5 I found on the Undercliff walk has been given to Amnesty.
25 November 2018