The Fag Run

This is a follow on from something I started writing in the previous post’s comments section about some of our antics at boarding school. After the emails, comments and even a phone call, I have decided to write the story of how on this occasion we may well have died…

During the bitter winter of 1979, one of the worst in UK history, the school is cut off from the outside world because of the snow drifting into large snow dunes across the flats of Norfolk.
The food was down to rationing and it was cold inside all the time, outside it was -15C…
But we’re out of fags (cigarettes), so we need to do a fag run to a pub and not get seen or leave a trace.
So, me Hammy and Dean decided we can make it to a pub called the Buck 2 miles away in the village of Morley and get back over open countryside plus a hill before it was lights out, 4 miles – what can go wrong?

As soon as darkness fell we slipped out and waded through the snow across the front school field towards a 10 foot deep drainage ditch, the problem was – it was gone… just level snow.
In little more than a whisper we discussed the issue until a muffled, subdued and somewhat echoing voice of Hammy says “I found it”…
Looking around we couldn’t see him anywhere. Eventually I think Dean lit a match and we raced over and slid down into this darkened hole in the ground.
Hammy said “check this out”. Lighting another match the drainage ditch illuminated into two foot wide tunnels either side of us through the snow, it looked unworldly and very cool.
After some messing about we finally climbed, scrambled and slid our way out of the other side of the trench, got our bearings and continued.

It was a hard slog, even the local farms were snowed in and it was becoming increasingly difficult to know if we were still on the road we had headed for or not as nothing had travelled down them for days.
We were doing alright though, the snow was only 2ft thick in some places and that made the going easier –  it was an adventure after all and as typical teens, we were going get what we wanted or die trying – almost…

As we descended the borderless road towards the village of Morley, we could see the lights of the pub and while noticing the odd snowbound vehicle looking like half buried giant marshmallow cannon balls, the snow started to fall from the darkness again. By the time we reached the pub, the snow flakes were huge and coming down fast as we entered the discussion of who should go in and buy them. In the end that was me and armed with our new acquisitions we strolled to the end of the village and sparked up…
It was then when we realised we couldn’t see where we had come from, our foot prints were already covered over!
As we started our way back up the hill the snow was coming straight at us, it was becoming harder to see where we were or even keep our eyes open.
A short time later we realised we had left the road and for the next 30 mins we were in total whiteout.
We linked arms and kept it together in order not lose anyone and persevered on.
We now knew we were against the clock to get back with less than an hour to go. With snow and wind against us in sub zero temperatures we finally realised we had hit another road. Suddenly the snow stopped and we could see a lone street light way off to our left with a large grain tower.
We knew that was where the location of the cross roads we should be at and started arguing if we should stay on our course or follow the road.
Oddly I can’t remember which we did, but while I will assume we went for the road, I got a feeling we followed a near straight course towards the school.

Another 40 minutes and we were once again looking for the same deep drainage ditch as before, this time I think it was Dean who fell through a far deeper section. And we realised that the previous area we had fallen through was now completely covered again.
Getting back out of the ditch the second time proved much harder and with the lights of the school glowing what seemed like a long way off, but was only a few hundred yards, the heavy snow started falling again.

Finally all three of us cleared the ditch and waded back towards the school, working our way around to a secluded entrance where we could get all our snowed up gear off and try to look normal again…
We had arrived back with 5 minutes to go before lights out and we looked like we had run a marathon. Staggering into the dorm, Mr Harding, the duty tutor just shouted for us to hurry up and get on with it.
We stripped and dived for our respective beds as though nothing had happened.
The cigarettes were secured beneath a loose floorboard between mine and Hammy’s beds and an hour later while enjoying a smoke, we agreed that we wouldn’t be doing that again in a rush, unless we had too :)

The following morning we looked out of the windows at the freshly laid blanket of snow, and gazed in amazement that there wasn’t a single mark left in the snow… We were fit, very fit and covering a distance just shy of 4 miles was nothing to us… but that night it took 2 & 3/4 hrs!
We realised years later, that we too could have lain buried out there for weeks until our bodies where found…. The things we do… :)

Four days later and for some bizarre punishment the entire school was sent on an 8 mile cross country run before breakfast in those conditions… Weird…

One day, I may write about real hauntings, the tuckshop raids, the large underground dens in the grave yard and the death bell…I’ll not mention the explosives, apparently it’s not very PC.

But then there was the kid that knew I used to shoot smallbore at competition level who came up to me with a .44 magnum hollow point bullet and asked me if it was live. I looked at the rear percussion cap and it hadn’t been struck, shook it and heard the powder and said “yes, it’s live – be very careful with it”. He then went and asked a teacher the same thing. The teacher thought it safer to tell the lad that it was inert and he should get rid of it. This he then went and did… with a bolster chisel and lump hammer! You see, he just had to know that if it was in fact inert –  what was shaking around inside?.. The ambulance was called and surprisingly he lived.
I will not be talking about the local ladies, shameful, just shameful ;)

Published in: on 18 August, 2010 at 20:24  Comments (5)  
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