‘The Exmoor’ is the longest compulsory school cross-country run in Britain. A ‘character-building’ eight mile walk to the start then a ten mile run back to the finish (there’s Devonshire logic for you), an eternal hill and mud-blighted slog that instilled in me a deep loathing of the English countryside which it took years to shrug off. There were three possible approaches to the ‘race’:
1) take it seriously and try to run as fast as you can all the way
2) huff and puff along inoffensively doing a bit of running then a bit of walking when you get a stitch or lose a trainer in one of the innumerable bottomless swamps.
3) treat it as an out-and-out doss
Schoolboys who took approach 1 were all prefects and suchlike, insufferable flaxen-haired toadies doubtless now employed in large banks and driving beamers. Those who took approach 2 now vote Lib Dem. Naturally I was a dosser. In our parlance, to doss (v) = to mess about to no aim or purpose. A doss (n) = anything that permitted dossing, eg. a field trip, a free period or a lesson with a teacher unable to maintain discipline.
We all moaned like hell about the Exmoor but an 18 mile nearly-unsupervised ramble about the country - walking, rolling, throwing stuff and talking twaddle - was a prime doss. Fellow Exmoor dossers are still firm friends now. Blogging is a doss and dossing has made me the blogger I am, just as ZMKC’s letters to Dewsbury-Briggs have made her the blogger she is. Character-building.