"Now, you listen here: 'e's not the Messiah, 'e's a very naughty boy! Now, go away!."

- Life of Brian -

Round London Treasure Hunt - 13 June 2009

by Kelly Dillon

LOTNA's Treasure Hunt - or as we like to call it, that (insert appropriate obscenity here) Dave's evil plan to send thirty people in all directions around London following his every whim while he sits back laughing.

It wasn't that bad really, well, not quite. There were more than a few curses flying on the day though, once seeing the ‘clues’. But it was all in good fun and everyone was grateful to Dave for going to such effort to confuse, flummox, baffle, and generally frustrate us.

It began as a meetup in Regent's Park, which the weather was uncharacteristically lovely for. It was really nice sitting in the shade (or not, I was intent on getting a tan) of a large maroon tree with thirty other Lotna friends, including about half a dozen new people who I hope enjoyed themselves. Part of the fun was trying to draw the attention of JR, who arrived after we had found a place in the park, with a display that they probably heard the other side of the park.

Teams were chosen with the aim to split certain people up. We know from past experience that some people are so knowledgeable that with their powers combined they become nigh unstoppable. The team leaders in ascending order were: Vicki, myself, Darren, Corinne, and JR. And my team included David, Will, Emm, Gail, Anne, and Pete (happy birthday Pete, by the way). I think we were all feeling fairly optimistic, but then Dave gave us our first clue and our dreams of doing well crumbled under the evil genius of his cryptic writing.

The clowns are choosey today
Outside the sacrifice's dead body
Find the vessel no Monk can enter.
For a bonus point find in the Morlock's lair
Where Spock works.

Umm, hmmm, gulp.

After a bit of discussion we decided the clowns must refer to one of the Circuses - Oxford, Piccadilly or Cambridge. We eventually settled on Piccadilly simply because it had the most statues, and we originally thought the “sacrifice's dead body ” may indicate a war monument. About my only contribution was to point out that ‘Monk’ was capitalised so likely referred to a specific character rather than monks in general, after suggestions were made that the ‘vessel’ was a statue of a woman. We also realised that the ‘sacrifice’ must be a store due to the use of ‘outside’ - you can't be outside a statue, after all. So some of us brushed up on our Latin and figured out that Trocadero very likely has something to do with death/dead bodies in the original translation. And what do we find near the Troc at Piccadilly Circus but a large TARDIS-like police box - a vessel that the Meddling Monk couldn't enter after the Doctor made it smaller on the inside. Great, right, we've got it and we're all fairly pleased with ourselves. Now to head underground (the Morlock's lair) to find where Spock works for the bonus point. Well Spock works on the Enterprise, so maybe a poster or model, or more specifically he works on the Enterprise's bridge, which is a lot more likely to show up as a reference in London. What do we see down there but a shop called ‘Bridges’. Perfect!

I ring up Dave to tell him we've cracked the first clue and need the next. Nope, naa uh, wrong - both of them. ‘But they made sense!’ I yell more than once. After trying to re-puzzle it out for about two seconds we get discouraged and vote to hear the second level clue.

The way is lit by golden arches
The shop won't sell you anything
What you seek is smaller on the outside.
Go downstairs and find the TimeLord's lair for a bonus.

Hmm, well at least we were rightish about the TARDIS, and the ‘golden arches’ seems a fairly clear reference to McDonalds, so we head off to the only one in sight from Piccadilly Circus. ‘A shop that won't sell you anything’…slightly more challenging, but everything seems to fall into place when opposite McDonalds we see a casino. No sales there, and it fits with the previous clue of a monk not entering it - gambling is bad. Right outside is a red phonebox. Not ideal, but at least TARDISy-shaped, it'll do. We grab a photo of ourselves beside it looking happy but somewhat less exuberant than our previous photo.

Talking to Dave on our way back to the tube and it's, ‘Err, um, no.Keep looking.’ My response to that was fairly unrepeatable, but from the rest of the conversation we worked out the ‘A shop that won't sell you anything’ was Zaavi, the defunct Virgin (‘sacrifice’) store, outside of which we found a miniature TARDIS.

If we'd thought that cryptic clue was just an aberration, Dave's brief foray into the world of horribleness, we were to be proven wrong by the next clue. This was no fleeting visit into the evil land of evil, he had in fact bought a Summer house there.

The Enterprise is under attack, red alert
Saucer separation imminent. Where should you go?
Hay! Go find the monsters and phasers on stun.

After some (okay, a lot) of discussion about whether the spelling of 'Hay' was a typo or not, we decided to take a look down Haymarket for anything relating to what an Enterprise crew might do in the last moments of their ship's destruction. We were delayed a significant length of time by the unexpected influx of several hundred bike riders who had regrettably mislaid all their clothes - and then decided to cycle through the heart of London. Is this making sense to anyone else, 'cause it sure doesn't to me. Anyway, back to the hunt. This is what we found and our reasons behind it (all incorrect, of course):

  • Planet Hollywood - If I was about to lose my ship and there was a nice convenient habitable planet nearby that would definitely be the place to head towards. Plus Hollywood = monsters and the shop itself was red, 'red alert'.
  • The Captain's Cabin pub - If you have a slightly more pessimistic view of the Saucer breaking apart and you really don't think there will be any escape then you might want to spend your last moments luxuriating in your cabin.Certainly beats running around manically in the corridors. Plus it was red too.
  • Just opposite there was a window display with a model of Moonraker's shuttle. Of course! The escape shuttles, the destination of choice for any interstellar mass evacuation.

But no, despite all our logical reasoning none of these were what Dave had in his evil mind, so we had to go on to the next level clue.

Near where Ireland's city is moored
Find the horse food road
Sea monsters are nearby so go catch your trophy.

I start looking up 'Hay'-related roads in my battered A-Z, finding Hay's Lane down at London Bridge right next to Battle Bridge Lane (which even to a non-Trekker like me makes sense) and overlooking the HMAS Belfast. Once there - a loooong time later because of the tube outages - we find a fantastical monster-ship-creature thingy that turns out to be the correct answer. We've only an hour before the meetup in the pub and a much needed drink so we vote to only do one more.

Upriver from the lair of the Nestene Consciousness
You'll find where the Draconians' play
Get trapped in the force fields.
For a bonus find May's garden.

The location seemed easy enough but due to time restrictions we decided to ask for the second level clue immediately rather than spend an age puzzling through Draconians and force fields.

The wheel turns in the west
Climb the stairs over the cinema
Stand in the grid of water.
Bonus - find Morph's flowers.

And then a following email shortly after, “That should be east,” which put an end to our discussion of which way was technically upriver. While heading east - not west - from the Wheel who do we see but the evil puppetmaster himself. Apparently he'd been walking near us (stalking!)for quite some time and we'd been too tired to notice him.

I spotted him eventually as he walked straight in front of us, but as I'd only just made a rather embarrassing misidentification faux pas just a few days previous I was unwilling to risk another. But the sidelong glance and smirk was unmistakeable, so we had company as we made our way up the stairs to a water sculpture resembling four cells.

We dashed inside as the water jets eased, and got our photo taken as they started up again, leaving us quite damp and bedraggled - David even more so after deciding to run through the 'bars'. Inside the theatre nearby was a fairly impressive garden made from plasticine (Morph) and designed by James May. Our last photo shows a much more tired team than the first enthusiastic shot in front of the wrong police box, but we'd all had a good day and looked forward to the debrief at the pub. We pulled out before having a crack at the other two questions, but after hearing from the other teams we decided putting our feet up with a pint was probably a very wise choice.

Again, I would like to join everyone in thanking Dave for the huge amount of work that went into such an enjoyable day - despite the in-game curses. I'm sure most of them will be retracted once our sore legs and sunburn heals.

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