Checkshirt’s Training

Six months of hyperactivity

Allan is unique amongst the Brothers. He has come up with ideas for the Hike which the rest of us couldn’t possibly imagine. Initially reluctant to get on board, he changed his mind when we decided to walk in Stuart’s memory.

Since signing up he has been an active – some might say hyperactive – member of the team. The same enthusiasm he showed as a youth looking for a girlfriend at discos is applied to raising money for our cause. Everyone he has ever encountered on LinkedIn has been contacted. He has sought out all possible ways, and more, to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

His training has also been wildly enthusiastic. He has used his local health club’s pool and gym to get fit. That additional girth that historically made sitting near him such a dangerous experience has disappeared.

Shirt buttons or, more accurately, Checkshirt button, which were liable to detach without warning and become eye-threatening missiles, now hang limply from folds of checked cotton.

He has submitted a plethora of training reports to the Brothers. Unfortunately most lack the accompanying photographic evidence our editorial board demands. However, they have certainly been entertaining, so we have summarised them here.

January 31st – Butser Hill to Creech Woods

Monday morning has become Allan’s preferred walking day. Prior to his first outing he shared a photo of himself dressed in his Xmas presents. We are prevented from publishing it as those of a nervous disposition might find it disturbing.

He set off with JK Rowling’s talking books to entertain him. Arriving at his lunch stop, having just taken a sandwich with him he declared himself grateful that the temptation of a quick pint was averted by the nearby Rising Sun Inn being closed.

This walk also marked the start of navigation and route planning difficulties. Creech Woods was aborted as time ticked on so as darkness threatened he turned for home. Consulting his trusty navigation aid – Google Maps – he was informed “You need to turn around” as he was heading away from his car.

This set a pattern that appears to have been repeated on subsequent walks.

February 7th – Mountbatten sports centre to Southwick village via Portsdown Hill

9 miles were planned for the next outing. With visions of Second World War D-Day landings in his head (wrong Band of Brothers, Allan) he once more set out. Again the failure to plan ahead led to his walk being cut short. He ran out of time, so off he went to meet his wife Pauline for an appointment at the local hospital.

February 14th – The Valentine’s Day “Messacre ”

Another attempt at Creech Wood, this time from Southwick Village, and this time navigation skills were to the fore.

Erm no, they weren’t.

Leaving the car park, Google Maps instructed him to turn right. He turned left. Subsequent equipment failure resulted in his packed lunch becoming a coffee consommé due to a leaking flask. His report doesn’t make it clear whether his original destination was reached, saying only that he turned round before reaching World’s End. We’re unsure if this was a destination, a metaphor, or reality.

However, he achieved a creditable 16 miles, mostly on country lanes. His feet will be like rhino skin when he arrives in Milngavie.

March 1st – Covid strikes

At the beginning of March Allan had intended to be on a cruise in the Caribbean with his wife Pauline. Instead he started what should have been a 10 day period of self-isolation.

Undeterred by this requirement he set off for a walk from Framlington Marshes car park. A 13 mile circular walk was planned via the Marshes, Portsdown Hill, Purbrook Fort, Cosham and Silsea Lines. Lunch was taken Forrest Gump style in a bus shelter while being aurally entertained by talking books and a jaunty playlist. With JK Rowling to entertain you, why would anybody swap Covid in a bus shelter for the Caribbean?

March 21st – A random ramble

Due to a lack of reports we’re not sure what happened between the 1st and 21st, but this walk started in Finchdean. It appeared to have no preplanned destination as he set off in a direction he hoped was south easterly. In fact, when finally checking with the now largely redundant and discredited Google Maps it turned out he had been walking south. So he then set forth for Stansted Park (allegedly to the north).

Midway through the afternoon even Google Maps had had enough, and crashed in exasperation. By this time he was in woodland and, to put it bluntly, lost. His predicament was solved when he hailed some passing cyclists who sent him on his way back to the car park from whence he started. Meanwhile, back home, Pauline was vainly trying to call him; worried as the time crept past 6:30pm and daylight was vanishing. His phone, of course, was out of power.

March 27th – The Caribbean at last

With Covid now gone, the countryside around Portsmouth returned to peace and quiet as Checkshirt finally set off on his cruise. The local search and rescue teams breathed a sigh of relief. We understand that the Captain of the ship declined his offer of navigation assistance using the expertise gained from Google Maps.

The other Brothers also breathed sighs of relief. After all, the opportunity to get lost on board ship is limited. Isn’t it?

A report sent while onboard indicated that his exercise regime included swimming, spinning and chasing hapless passengers around the decks asking for donations. His swimming prowess allegedly enabled him to outdo passing turtles (the accompanying photo was sent as evidence). Hmmm. Looks remarkably like a brochure picture. Could his training have been forgotten?

Apparently wine tasting was now interfering with his fitness regime, so perhaps those eye-threatening missiles would make a comeback?

Where’s Wally?

In short, the cruise turned out to be a timely respite from getting lost. However, he hasn’t submitted any training reports since he returned (we assume he’s back), so perhaps he’s totally focused on getting fit again. Or maybe he’s wandering round an island somewhere in the Caribbean wondering where the ship went?

There is a saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. We have every confidence Allan will complete the Hike as he’ll have the rest of the Band to point him in the right direction. But he certainly won’t be in charge of navigation.

So watch out, West Highland Way. The phenomenon that is Checkshirt is heading your way.

Provided, of course, that there’s no signal from Google Maps.