We Seek It Here, We Seek It There ...
I love treasure hunts, although they usually prove frustrating and costly, and always lose me at least one good friend. I still recall the the one run by Toblerone, which I did with a pal called Brian. We were both jobless and destitute at the time, with overdrawn bank accounts and soon-to-be-cancelled credit cards, but that didn’t stop us hiring cars and driving the 80 miles to Bristol on four separate
occasions. I said to Brian’s long-suffering wife as we departed on the last expedition, ‘Cheer up, Sarah - we’ll bring you back the treasure and a stick of Clevedon rock.’ To which she replied, ‘I’d settle for some shoes for the kids.’ Knowing we were spending the kids’ shoe money on this iffy enterprise was a great source a joy to me as we trudged from one dead end to another.
I was convinced the Bristol area was the place where they keys
to the prize car were hidden because the clues referred to ‘The English Columbus’. This just had to be John Cabot, as he was born in the same place as Columbus (Genoa), did the exploring thing like Columbus, and is thought to have discovered parts of America. Practically a clone. Bristol, of course, was where Cabot lived. We had to look for a relic of the great man, and there was a whale bone from one of Cabot’s voyages in Bristol’s St. Mary Redcliff church. From
there we had to ‘Fly as the crow towards the setting sun until the open road is calling.’ Due west from the church was the M5. After that, said the clues, the answer was to be found in an old poem called A Silent Love. This had the line, ‘The dial stirs yet none perceives it move’. Just over the M5 in Clevedon was Dial Hill, and a few miles inland lay Dial Quarry. Ah - the dial moves without seeming to move, i.e. magically jumps inland! Right next to
Dial Quarry was the village of Winford - and the prize was a Ford car! It couldn’t have been clearer if there had been a neon sign over the village saying, ‘Here it is!’
Well, we sifted every grain of sand in that place but there were no hidden keys. Fifty miles into the journey home we realised we’d forgotten Sarah’s stick of rock. It was probably just as well we didn’t hand her anything that could be used as a weapon, because she wasn’t pleased
to learn that the kids had been deprived of their shoes for nothing. She and Brian were divorced not long after that. The keys were eventually found in Norfolk. The English Columbus, it turned out, was that old seadog Isaac Newton, who discovered somewhere called Gravity. I still whimper a little when I think of that one.
The moral of this story, apart from don’t tell the wife, is that a spot of lateral thinking is often called
for in treasure hunt clues. But be warned, sometimes they require no thinking at all. You spend days saying to yourself, ‘Yes, but what does it really mean?’ and then find that it means just what it says and the village idiot has beaten you to the loot.