ON THE SELECTION AND MARKING OF
By E.V.G. IN the above heading, the astute and observant reader, such a one as is in the class A.1. among Crossword Puzzle Solvers, will have detected the word” Trial.” ” What,” he will ask, “is this man talking about ? Is he going to discourse on trial by jury ? Does he refer to trial by ordeal ? Has he, by any chance, trial and error in his ill-equipped and badly pidgeon-holed mind ? Or is it—could it be–an egg-laying trial about which he pens his partially considered and loathsomely ungrammatical words ? ” Hush! Gentle Reader, ’tis of none of these that I would write. No, No! It is of that class of trial, far more impossible than the bribing of a jury, far more arduous than the agony of listening to the second murderer sharpening the knife wherewith to relieve one of one’s (same one’s) ears, far more exhausting than the process of elimination (or is it reductio ad absurdum?) far more intense than coaxing a one-legged cockerel to produce ova (a word of three letters meaning eggs—alternative, ” roe “)to proceed, it is of that class of trial known as Reliability and of that branch of Reliability Trial dubbed Sporting, that I am about to speak. [You mean ” write!”—ED.1— (I don’t, I mean ” typewrite! “—E.V .G.) (Score : r; Ed., o.)
Have 1, by the above, conveyed to you the idea that I wish to —ahem!–er—mention matters mainly meant for mere motorists ? If I have, this will not have been penned—(” type-penned.”—En.) (Score : i all.)—in vain ; for, as they told me in my very first copy-book, ’tis better to have written and blotted than -lever to have had a ‘Writ at all. Oh! yes, about this trials business—well, following the precept of our forefathers, who ran to earth the great thought that before poaching your egg you must Poach it, it is necessary to find a course before you can lay it. (The course, not the egg.–ED.) (E.V.G.,r ; Ed., 2.)
One of the essentials in finding a suitable course is a good map. Now a map is what someone thinks the earth, or part of it, looks like from the air. As maps were invented before balloons, and as present-day maps are reprints of those of the anteaeronautic age, it is a little difficult to see how these charts can be accurate. If, however, you go to any spot at which “P.O. Telegraph Saturdays 1.30 p.m. to 8.o p.m.” is marked on the map, you are tolerably certain of finding a pillar box, or at least, a two-column automatic machine with stamps in one side and chewing gum in the other, so there must be something in this map business. Wherefore, let us take the correctitude of these geographic diagrams for granted.
In the first place, a. trial must start somewhere. I mean to say, a trial without a start would be a bit difficult, wouldn’t it ? A good tip is to start from a place where fuel can be obtained. The local brewery will be glad to supply a list of such filling stations.
Another advantage of this is that all the entrants know where to go when they receive an entry form stating that the start is from the ” Bug and Bluebeard,” whereas, if you informed them that ” first man leaves a point 41 miles S.S.E. by E. of Chipping Woodblocks at ILI ac emma,” where would you, or for that matter, they, be ? Having; then, selected the particular hostelry from which you intend your club-mates to sally forth in search of mud and medals, farmyards, and fame, mark it on your map with a ring in blue pencil. (N.B.—If you havn’t a blue pencil, a red or a green one will do just as well, but a blue one is more ” chic.”) Your chosen rendezvous will probably be on a main road. If so, run your eye along that national artery until you find the first turning on the right. Unless you are very unlucky, this will be a lane or at least, a considerably secondary road. Next cast around for the nearest track marked on the map with double dotted lines. Proceed thereto on the wheel, and you will probably find a five-bar gate across the end of it, with two padlocks and a chain, a farmer with a dog and/or gun, and a board bearing the legend : “Trespassers will be executed. Beware of the Hog. Ssssh! Don’t wake the pheasants. Milk, 2!.d. per glass (large).” This will possibly indicate that there is some doubt as to your right of way along this particular by-pass. Don’t stop to argue ; it’s not worth while. The kind of farmer who puts up notices like that is usually adamant, has a stoney stare, but is not rocky on his pins. No!—to haggle with such a man of granite would be but to drop a brick. (You’re a very free mason.—ED.) Further reference to the Ordnance Survey will almost
ON THE SELECTION AND MARKING OF A TRIAL—continued.
certainly produce another of the dotted line class thoroughfares at no great distance. If it does, all well and proper ; if not, your pub’s a rotten one, and you will have to start all over again.
Assuming that search and research have indicated the desired second footpath, approach cautiously, on foot for preference, and obtain a fair idea of the layout of the land. In the absence of gates and bellicose cattle, the motor may be introduced, and, voila, you have discovered the first colonial section. Of course, you mall find the aformentioned impedimenta at the further end, but that would be a very low down trick on the part of the farmer. About this time, you will scan the map eagerly for a goodish river, and proceed direct to the spot marked “Ford.” This remark has nothing to do with that wonderful instrument most frequently christened “Metallic Elisabeth.” It rather indicates the presence of a depth of water across the fairway. This is as it should be. It is as well to ascertain the depth of the ocean, in order to see whether it is you or the competitors who will have cause to dam it. On no account, however, should you take the motor into it. The last time I was foolhardy enough to do this, I had to mark the remainder of the course in tow behind a farm tractor. How, then, to obtain the much-desired datum ? Simple, my dear Watson! Of course, if you carry a plumb-line, it’s easy enough ; but do you ? I don’t. My recipe is : Bend over the back wheel and make a noise like a large and sudden puncture. Stop watch timing has proved that within a maximum of 43 secs., you will be surrounded by persons of the genus ” small boy.” Give them time to get over their admiration of (a) yourself, and (b) your model, and then offer a penny to the first urchin wl:lo stands in mid-stream. Note which one goes deepest, call him out, measure up from the ground to the high-water mark, (this will be easily discerned), pay him off, and disperse the crowd. (The penny may be charged up to the Club.) Very good, the swimming contests are now accounted for. Hereabouts another dotted line effort suggests itself. Following the proceedure outlined above, you unearth another colonial section within a mile or so. After this, by way of a change, a good thick wood should be included. If there are several woods to choose from, preference should always be given to one with a good few contours crossing it. The best path to select through a wood is one strewn with felled trees, as these make competitors leave the course, and therefore necessitate their finding it again, always a difficult process in forestal sections. You are not, however, advised to cut down elms, oaks, etc., just to make it more difficult ; this is a great annoyance to the charcoal burners, and their Union might be roused into energetic action. (See Any Good Encyc., Vol. 43., pp. 416-943. Denizens of the Forest. Sect. B., The Charcoal Burner and his Enentie.)
After the sylvan section, a couple of miles of lane, just for ‘,encouragement, could be followed by a Brake Test. Why, I can’t think, as we all know how good or bad our brakes, or brake, are, or is. However, apparently some other inquisitive blighter wants to know also, wherefore he makes us run, in neutral ( !), down a gradient such as he himself couldn’t climb, and then, just as the speedo is breaking, calls upon us to jam on our brakes. Net result, one heap of tangled motorcycle and swearing humanity. ” be fourteen marks, thank you.. Next, please!” Whereupon, we move sadly, sorely, uncomfortably and wobblity off. Well, I have a suspicion that by now you may have an inkling of the idea of things. Briefly, tersely, not to say concisely put, the big scheme is to include as large a percentage of colonial going as is possible with out resorting to the extreme measure of travelling abroad. The start and finish should be quite near the first and last obstacles respectively, and each to each. Secret checks may be used here and there, or now and again, as the case may be. The remarks above anent
ON THE SELECTION AND MARKING OF A TRIAL–concluded.
fie selection of a suitable starting point apply also to the finish, only infinitely more so. If you make a habit of ending your courses in the middle of (a) a forest, (b) a prohibition country, (c) the night, you will find your entries dropping off rapidly.
Now may I trouble you for a few minutes with a note Or two, or even more if I can think of them, on the marking of trials. For this omninecessary process it is advisable to gather together the following articles :—
(1) Some dye of a prominent hue. (2) Some arrows. (L.) (3) Some more arrows. (R.)
(4) Some nails.
(5) Some hammer.
(6) Some trees.
(7) Some vehicle. (8) Some other vehicle.•
(9) Some sacks. (Jo) Some spade.
There should not be much difficulty in procuring most of these items. For Nos. I, 2 and 3, you refer to the Club Secretary, and there your responsibility ends. Nos. 4 and 5 may be lifted when you are having a new wick put in the oil-stove. No. 6 is not vital, as you may he able to find some lying about. If you have any to spare, however, it is advisable to take your own, as some people have a rooted objection to arrows, whether attached with a nail, or engraved with a carvingknife on their trees. Nos. 7 and 8 are always the most difficult items to raise. It is not really a sound idea to use your own motor, but it is sometimes unavoidable. I leave that to you. No. 9 should be reasonably easy, particularly to those who may be, or rather in fact, are, connected with that most moneymaking of all trades— Old Clo’es. No. ro may cause trouble. Of course, if one’s guv’nor is a market gardener, it’s easy enough ; but if he’s a gardener without a market, or a marketer without a garden, the requisite tool must be pinched from a somnolent nightwatchman. Remember always, in order to avoid confusion, that a spade ic a spade, and no sort of shovel.
Marking is a messy business, as a result of which several bright and brainy people have perfected (?) dyeing machines. All wrong, my children! Eschew them as you would music with no bars, an animal with no spirit, or a ship with no port. They cannot be Too per cent. efficient. The only way is the dirty way, i.e., carrying the dye in sacks and putting it down with the hands.
Very well, having chosen a route which is capable of being turned, by a little English summer weather, into a rout, and having borrowed suitable, and it is to to be hoped, reliable motors, sacks, spades, etc., as per above list, you sally forth to get to work, taking the map with you. An early start is absolutely essential. If you can’t raise the conventional alarm clock, doss in the hen-house, but take care to give the hens full information as to Summer Time, Lighting Up Time, the date of Good Friday, etc.
You may have been lucky enough to have obtained the loan of a cycle-cum-chair for one of your vehicles. In this case, an efficient passenger must be found. To qualify for this pozt he must be light, active, strong and durable, and should be blessed with senses of locality and humour. The general scheme of things is that you dye on the corners and your motor dies on the straights. In carrying out the former, dye must be put down before, on, and after the corners, so that any competitor riding the course in the wrong direction cannot find out his
error until he reaches the finish, that is, the start. It is useless to put arrows in out-of-the-way places, as there is such a small possibility of adolescent villagers reversing them. A really enterprising club has the note, “Any person found tampering with, defacing, obliterating or otherwise spoiling, or reversing arrows, will be prosecuted,” on its arrows, thus guaranteeing the competitors a spot of bother.
Not forgetful of the parable of the ten virgins, of whom five were wise, and five otherwise, the experienced marker will conserve his dye supplies on the early part of the circuit, so that he may have enough powder left to complete his job, and thus ensure his own safe arrival, untroubled by conscience, at the hostelry selected as the finishing point.
The last really necessary point to remember in laying a genuinely self-respecting trial is that it is absolutely essential that the markers should dead-heat with the first competitor. The Editor has won. The second half was long and gruelling in the extreme, during which both sides failed to register. A near thing, my hearties—the odd goal in three. I wonder which was the odd goal, no, goal ? But next time, unless, of course, the Editor refuses to grant me, us, that is, a return match (between you and me, he’s quite capable of such a breach of etiquette).— [HE IS.—ED.]