March March March
Dispatches from March

March March March There is a 'thing' called the March March March.

Although it sounds like a line from a rather poor children's rhyme, it is actually an eccentric member of the 'extreme sport' set of activities. It was created by a Cambridge Maths Professor who sort of got all his sums wrong.

The aim of the 'thing', is to March from March in March. Still struggling with the concept?

OK. The March March March is a walk (a march) from March (a town in the Fens) in the month of March.

The problem with the March March March is that it is a 30 mile March from March Station to the cloistered environs of Cambridge University via 3 pubs.

Those of you whose mind follows a certain kind of venn diagram in life, will see the problem and where the Professor, who shall remain nameless to protect his mathematical reputation, went drastically wrong in his calculations.

Set 1. The walk.
To walk 30 miles through the flat endless terrain of the Fens under it's very 'big sky' is to miss the point of walking for pleasure. This would be an ordeal of epic proportions and rank high amongst the pantheon of silly British things to do like: Haggis Hurling, holming (a tradition of beating people with holly on Christmas morning) and Morris Dancing.

Set 2. The connection with March as in the town itself.
Under the current format this lasts for the first few minutes. After which anyone stupid enough to be partaking of this oddball nonsense would be plagued by the simple truth, if the professor had thought of calling the event something a little less symmetrical, the Wilburton March March for example, it would have been only half the distance making the ratio of miles to pubs a little more palatable.

Set 3. The pubs.
3 pubs?

Clearly the Professor, whilst scoring 10 out of 10 for a catchy name for his little adventure, would be getting red pen and 'See me' all over his work when it comes to the 'How to organise a good pub crawl' lessons that were clearly absent from the extra curricula activities of his under graduate days. 30 pubs in 3 miles would be more like it, if a little on the terminal side.

My suggestion is that the rules of engagement of this dieing event should be changed. Only 63 people have taken part since it's inception in 1979 and this year was the first time in 5 years that anyone even bothered to turn up for this "long and pointless walk"*.

Firstly, there needs to be accommodation. The version of the March March March that I suggest will not fanny around with a mile to pub ratio of 10:1. That kind of nonsense can only lead to sobriety and silly British 'traditional' events would get nowhere if that were a prerequisite. This means that you need somewhere for people to sleep it off the next day. I suggest the Four Winds Campsite. Yes the name is a little disconcerting. But this is the Fens with a big flat landscape. If the wind is going to blow anywhere, it is going to blow here. The campsite is very pleasant, allows campfires (although not essential in March - the month that is), it is by the river, half an hours walk from the town and does a fine breakfast in the mornings if you can rise from your pit before 9 a.m.

Heart Op to Half Marathon in 51 days
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The event would start off with at least a nod towards a bit of health and fitness as an echo of the original March March March event. This should take the form of March parkrun. For those of you afraid of the 'run' in parkrun, I must point out it is not compulsory to actually run it. A gentle stroll is acceptable. Even a gentle stroll with your dog on a short lead, pushing a pram. The line should be drawn, however, at smoking a fag whilst drinking a can of Special Brew on your way round. This would go against the ethos of the event and early on a Saturday morning would get you some disgusted looks from the parkrun hardcore and a tap on the shoulder from a well meaning off duty social worker wanting to talk to you about the array of rehabilitation opportunities that the local NHS and voluntary services have on offer.

The parkrun would be followed by that tradition of parkrun toruism, eating far more calories after the run than you actually burnt off during it. I suggest the Tea Parlour in town where, if you order a speciality tea with your breakfast sandwich, it will be served on a special tray, with a special timer on it to tell you when your very special tea has brewed.

Then it is back to the campsite to freshen up and prepare for the main event.

There are plenty of pubs in March. This gives the option of the All New March March March satisfying the needs of a pub crawl without taking a 30 mile trek to the other side of the county to do it. There are enough pubs for the pub crawl to split and follow various vectors around the town. You could double or even square the number of pubs visited by the original version of the event. Unfortunately my limited research time, which consisted of a Saturday evening in March watching England fail to win the Grand Slam in Rugby Union thanks to the escapades of those pesky Irish, meant that I could only sample 2 March hostelries.

Round Sheffield Run
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Judging by the data collected from my short visit and a brief chat with local parkruners, the Griffin and the Ship are perhaps the pick of the bunch. However, there are plenty of other fine pubs to choose from. The Cobblestones, The Men of March and The Three Tuns are just three of them, included here only because they have interesting names. I have no comment to make as to their worthiness to be included in anyone's pub crawl.

Just like in any town the different pubs attract different clientele. Some will make their way in the world off the back of the well healed and charge a fortune for what is after all 95+% water. Others will cater for the less well off, the less well behaved and even the downright 'to be avoided at all costs' social groups of the town. The only way to work out which category each of the 10+ pubs still listed in the town fits into and by definition, which strata of society you belong to and whether you need coaching, counselling or psychotherapy to deal with the truth of it, is to try them out.

No pub crawl is complete without the obligatory visit to the chip shop. Now this is an area that March excels in and another reason that the original March March March got it all wrong. How can you say that you have visited March and truly taken in it's full delights if your event means you have left March before The Riverside Chippy has even brought a fresh batch of cooking oil to the boil?

It is a dangerous thing to announce that you have found the best chips in the British Isles. Often, when some journalist from a national Newspaper announces that he/she has done so, it is largely, one suspects, out of a desire to turn a family trip to the seaside into a few more column inches. It of course results in masses of extra customers for the local chippy, descending from all corners of these islands. It also results in the local bins being filled to over flowing by slightly disappointed punters, who having been brought up on the chips from the White Elephant in Glossop, find themselves scratching their heads wondering if they got the wrong chippy, misread the article or have been the victim of a mistranslation due to the North-South divide yet again.

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I was possibly a little ungenerous, during my research trip to March, in awarding 9.5 out of 10 for the chips at The Riverside Chippy. My logic was 'you've got to leave room for improvement'. But in fairness the only chips that I have experienced that were as good were form The Fisherman's in Mevagissey and one in Wolverhampton, the name of which I can't remember, that used to do a lot of deep fried chicken which gave the fat and therefore the chips, a delightful chickeny flavour that I would die for as I staggered home after too many pints in the Poly bar.

The Riverside produces, if not actually the best chip in the land, then some of the best. If you visit March and don't get yourself a bag of chips from The Riverside, you have failed your March March March matriculation and will have to face the embarrassment of a resits while the rest of your cohort prepare for their graduation ball, which one suspects will involve crawling round the pubs of some other unsuspecting town.

So, as you stagger back the mile or so to the campsite, beer swishing gently over nicely digesting chips you should spare a thought for the participants of the official March March March. By now they will have just about arrived at their third and final pub, legs, knees and feet aching, to find that it has called last orders and the local chippy is serving chips with that 'kebab shop lip service to the glory of the chip' taste, made by people who think that a chip is just a piece of potato deep fried in oil and have no understanding of the place that it has in the history of civilisation ranking amongst Shakespeare, illogical spelling and William McGonagall as one of the things that makes the nations of these islands united in one great cultural porridge.

Maybe to the 2 participants of March March March 2017 should consider something different next year. The All New March March March, perhaps?

*This is a direct quote from the website clikc here

The website does make it quite clear that the whole thing was a silly idea that just won't quite die. The organiser of it has been trying to resign for years, allegedly.

The website tells you all you need to know about the event i.e. don't do it.

It also has lots of useful little bits too.

The history of the event including a list of all the participants and a short report, year by year. A must read.

Customs of the event including the hilarious tradition of sending postcards with silly names on them from March before setting off.

And of course The March March March song, sung to the tune of Frere Jacques:
Wimblington, Doddington,
Chatteris, Crafty Fox,
Somersham and Earith,
Willingham and Girton,
March March march!
March March march!

Oh, and a recipe for date bars.

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Oh My Nottz is a HotHouse Theatre production. Co. No. 6505843 Charity No. 1154523. Tel 07963020259 email website