When I mentioned hare and hounds to my other he immediately said, oh the hairy Hounds, which was the nickname of a pub in Oldham,, in fact it might still be the nickname for the pub for all I know! I was referring to the cross country race called hare and hounds which I had been researching for my latest story. This is what I wrote in my story – Thomas Radwinter is researching a family called Abbershaw:
I did a google search for the Abbershaws and came up with zilch except for a report in a newspaper in 1923 when a James Abbershaw won a cup for a hare and hounds race… that sounded intriguing, but apart from finding that he was a distant cousin of Jack/Lee’s family there was nothing of any relevance. I did deviate to look up Hare and Hounds and having dismissed the link to a pub and an American motorcycle race,
I discovered that in fact it was a sort of free-flow cross country race. Originally one or two people were the hares – or sometimes foxes, as it was sometimes called Fox and Hounds, and they set off leaving a trail of bits of paper behind them which the rest of the racers had to follow and try and catch them. I don’t quite understand the point – did they catch them and the person who did was the winner, or was it the first person to get to an agreed finishing line?
Apparently this type of running pursuit game/race dates back to the 1500’s at which time the countryside must have had a lot of wilderness and woods and forests and empty wild spaces. I guess it might be quite easy to get lost so I wonder if it was a way of establishing a course? And did all the runners set off at the same time, in which case those behind could just follow the ones in front and forget about looking for bits of paper? And supposing the bits of paper blew away? And who would pick up all the bits of paper afterwards? Sometimes it was called paper chase, which is where the word paper chase comes from.
I was looking it up on Wikipedia and it said that sometimes it was run in a maze, well that sounds a bit ridiculous unless the ‘hares’ knew how to get out. I could imagine the hares ending up in a dead end and the hounds came piling round the corner and there they all were, trapped.
Thinking about it, runners and running clubs are sometimes called harriers, so maybe that’s where the word comes from. I deserve a bit of a break so I continue to deviate and find a harrier is also a bird, and several planes including the Harrier Jump Jet are named after it. I actually knew that, but didn’t know there’s also a dog, called a harrier and when I looked it up I was surprised to see it looked rather like Tony, Francine’s dog. Then there was a list of a whole load of running clubs with harrier in their name and then there is an actor called Laura Harrier who was born in 1990,
If this story actually makes it, it will be the eight in the Thomas Radwinter series, and if you haven’t read them, here is a link – they are available as paperbacks and eBooks
I have no images of hares, harriers, foxes or pubs called The Hare and Hounds, so I have as my featured image a picture of our hound, Reg.