Kevin by Steve Woods

Thundering River Cave: Richard Gibson, Graham Huck, Steve Woods (30 August 2017).

I have often been secretly in awe of the B-Team. The more time I spend in their company the greater the scale of their digging endeavours becomes apparent and more stories of this and their associated unheard-of monikers slip out. So it is that Maggie Thatcher Pot with it’s army of unemployed boulders and the others I continue to hear of are for me a part of our club’s uniquely ‘local’ history which our forebears carried and which we carry today; which no scouring of the internet or any book or journal will reveal and which those that surround us are welcome to Tacitus-like misunderstand and shake their heads at. Hucky’s threats to sneak caps into a certain pipe are by no means idle.

I’m hopeful my new found B-team probationary period won’t be revoked just yet though. Especially in revealing that I was invited to dig with them twice in the same week recently and that this could be construed as any keenest on their part or breaking their circle of truth on mine. So it was that I found myself with Richard back on bucket-filling-duty whilst Hucky ahead of us continued at a pace no doubt he considered to be lapse but I had seen featured on last night’s telly about cross-rail. And it had only been two weeks previously that to my disbelieving ears Richard had revealed they had employed the mobile catering services of his Brother. Camper Vans are not uncommon and often go unnoticed in the dales. So on the day in question I can be forgiven for not spotting a van parked up nearby that when leaving Hucky underground I found transformed into an impressive mobile canteen with the very spit of Richard serving Phil, Katie and himself the very finest pie with peas and freshly brewed mugs of tea.

Phil waiting for table service to commence as Hucky arrives from the bucket mine (Photo – Steve Woods)

Like most blokes I admit to being often justifiably challenged for not listening. And as Hucky continued deep under the capital I became vaguely aware of Richard above the noise of thundering water shouting something at me repeatedly of possible importance. This continued for some time. Words began to take shape into form and an order that I put down to the cold water I was lying in or perhaps a reduction in air volume due to some added zeal on Huck’s part to prevent the location of the dig in question being revealed by entombing himself and his workforce behind the exponentially increasing quantity of his mining efforts.

Much Thundering! (Photo – Phil Ryder).

Cray fish are something I have eaten in France and I’m sure I had seen Bill Oddie talking about on the TV. And I’m sure it was thinking about the latter that threw me off the scent of the object of Richard’s shouting for so long. His words eventually coalesced into continued doubt on my part as I looked at endless water entering the dig from various directions with still no sign of Bill Oddie or my experiences of rural France. Eventually my brain catches up and I asked the obvious…

“Where is it?”

“Here!” (Richard)

“Pick it up then!” (Me)

“No chance!” (Richard)

“What’s the matter?” (Me)

“It’s huge!” (Richard)

Looking over his shoulder what was fast becoming a top contender for Rocket’s most dangerous angry critter list was in fact something not unlike the Gallic version. So now thinking it may be more likely that we sit-on said crustacean rather than he confuse us wolverine-like for a tree itching for a fight, I elected to transport our new friend topside in the digging bucket.

The B-Team’s Celebrity Taxi (Photo – Steve Woods).

Exiting the cave I spot two folks passing and immediately invite them to see what we have found. The two German tourists, on the way back to their car and enjoying an evening walk, immediately recognising their post-Brexit neighbours are exactly as described, kindly humour us and politely nod smiling as we proudly introduce our new friend. Skipping introductions, explanations, orientation, and ice-breakers the conversation moves from inviting our guests to name the new club mascot to tales of the glory below that have motivated our mid-week evening excursion. As Hucky joins us the conversation changes tack to a more acceptable local to tourist discussion of where to visit and where to eat and drink. Perhaps reassured that whilst we are English and therefore odd that we are perhaps not crackers, our Saxon cousins thank us and head on their way as we head back to the entrance to await instructions and further snippets of Huck’s master plan.

“Kevin!” (from our visitors as they turn and then continue on their way), “You should call him Kevin!”

I’m not sure if they are thinking of their impressions of the English in general with this or our new mascot. Kevin however is no longer in the digging bucket or for that matter anywhere to be seen and with this Hucky goes on to explain how he had heard how cray fish can often be found to travel up-to 15 miles on their way to and from their intended’s location often under the cover of darkness.

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Kevin patiently posing for photos (Photo – Steve Woods).