The first March March march in 5 years took place on Saturday 18th March 2017. It's hoped that the media coverage might raise interest in reviving it in future years. Watch this space.
Colin Bell was interviewed about the March March march on local radio the previous day and the BBC published this article. There was also a short article and an editorial comment in the following day's Sunday Telegraph.
The March March march is a long, flat, pointless walk across the Fens from the town of March to Cambridge, a distance of about thirty miles. It takes place, of course, in March, often but not always on the last Saturday in March. It has no purpose other than to be called the March March march. It was invented by Jonathan Partington in 1979, apparently because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The March March march is organised by an official known as the Custos Martis. The current Custos Martis is Colin Bell, who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There have been successful March March marches in 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2017. There was an attempted March in 2002 but nobody completed it, and a March was planned in 2007 but nobody started it.
In 2009 and 2010 the Cambridge University Rambling Club put on their own version of the March March march, apparently believing that the original was no longer in existence. In 2010 we detected them by doing a websearch on the phrase March March march and wrote to them, politely pointing out that they were impostors. They went ahead with their version anyway, but acknowledging this page; and an agreement was reached for 2011 whereby the two versions merge and the 2011 March March march also appeared on the CURC Termcard.
For 2012 the route was the one used by CURC in 2010, which is even longer and would be even flatter if that were possible.
The 2013 March March march did not take place, as far as we know: the first year since 1980 that this has happened. Nor were there March March marches in 2014, 2015 or 2016, but there was one in 2017. The omission of 1980 is regretted but it is no longer possible to do anything about it.
The March March march was on a Wednesday in 1979 and 1986 and on a Sunday in 1981 and 1989, but has otherwise always been on a Saturday. Two March March marches, in 1988 and 2005, went (intentionally) to Ely rather than Cambridge: one Marcher did this unintentionally in 1982.
1. March 21st 1979. David Goto, Jonathan Partington, John Sherwood; David Jackson, Andrew Taylor to Earith. Rainy early on, later dry, some snow. Train 9.10. Crafty Fox for lunch at 1.30. Via disused railway line near Somersham. Home 6.40 p.m. (5 participants)
2. March 29th 1981. Ian Farquharson, David Goto, David Jackson, Jonathan Partington, Robert Wilson. Rainy earlier; later O.K. Train 9.40 B.S.T. Ship Inn, Chatteris for lunch and Owd Roger beer. Two stretches of railway line. Home at various times between 8 and 10.30. (5 participants)
3. March 20th 1982. Richard Borcherds, Ian Farquharson, David Jackson, Jonathan Partington, Gregory Sankaran, Fenella Smith, Robert Wilson. Train 8.13. Crafty Fox. Special mention to David Goto who arrived from Amsterdam, caught the 10.13 train, attempted to catch up the main party, got lost, and ended up in Ely. (About 7 participants)
4. March 26th 1983. Ian Farquharson, David Jackson, Jonathan Partington, Fenella Smith. Weather sunny! Train 8.13. Honest John in Chatteris, Crafty Fox for lunch, pub in Girton and the Castle. Home 10. (4 participants)
5. March 17th 1984. Ian Farquharson, David Jackson, Fenella Jackson (née Smith), Jonathan Partington, Helene Pousa, Gregory Sankaran. Train 8.13. Via new Wimblington bypass. Crafty Fox for lunch; George Inn Girton. Home about 8.30. (6 participants)
6. March 23rd 1985. Ian Farquharson, David Jackson, Fenella Jackson, Helene Partington (née Pousa), Jonathan Partington. Rain most of the day. Train 8.13. Crafty Fox 12.15 for lunch -- they remembered us. George Inn, Girton. Home 9.45. (5 participants)
7. March 26th 1986. Ian Farquharson, David Jackson, Fenella Jackson, Helene Partington, Jonathan Partington. Rain in evening only. Train 8.52. Crafty Fox for lunch. Oakington and Girton pubs. Home about 11. (5 participants)
8. March 28th 1987. Bob Dowling, Ian Farquharson, Fenella Jackson, Helene Partington, Jonathan Partington, Michael Roe; John Sherwood to Longstanton; David Jackson from Crafty Fox; Martin Barlow to Crafty Fox. Wet and windy in morning. Train 8.45. Crafty Fox for lunch. Back 10 p.m. (About 8 participants)
9. March 26th 1988. Ian Farquharson (missed train), David Goto, David Jackson, Fenella Jackson, Helene Partington, Jonathan Partington, Marita van Vliet. Route devised by Martin Barlow who didn't come. Lunch in Chatteris. Via Sutton Gault, Sutton, Coveney, Frog's Abbey, Ely (pub) and train back to Cambridge. (7 participants)
10. March 19th 1989. Roy Badami, Fenella Jackson, Helene Partington, Jonathan Partington, Jon Peatfield, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran; Bob Dowling to Earith. No rain all day. Train 9.34 a.m. Via Doddington. Crafty Fox 1.35. Pubs in Oakington and Girton (no food). David Jackson with car present for lunch and supplied coffee, tea and whisky at Willingham. (8 participants)
11. March 24th 1990. Roy Badami, Colin Bell, Bob Dowling, Ian Farquharson, David Jackson, Fenella Jackson, Timothy Luffingham, Helene Partington, Jonathan Partington, Alex Perry, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Mark Wainwright; Martin Barlow from Crafty Fox; Colin Wright to Crafty Fox. Wind and rain most of the morning, some sunshine in the afternoon. Train 8.52 a.m. We were asked to leave the newsagent's in March after unseemly scenes signing postcards with the names of recently-deposed presidents. Crafty Fox 1.15ish. Via pub at Willingham (White Hart) 6 p.m., open for the first time. Also visited pub at Oakington, and had dinner at the George Inn, Girton, 8.30 p.m. Ann Gustard with car provided back-up support at Crafty Fox, Willingham and Girton. (About 14 participants)
12. March 23rd 1991. Simon Arrowsmith, Roy Badami, Colin Bell, Simon Dean, Daniel Denman, Guy Deutscher, David Goto, Michael Greene, David Jackson, Timothy Luffingham, Paul Nicholls, Jonathan Partington, Luke Reader, Oliver Riordan, Mark Wainwright; Ian Farquharson, Anna Zwicky to Willingham; Fenella Jackson to Earith; Amy Golub to the Crafty Fox; also Julian Hayward by bicycle from March to Somersham, thence by foot to Long Stanton. Weather dry all day, sunny for long stretches. Train 8.45 a.m. Lunch at Crafty Fox 1 p.m., tea at Willingham 5.45 p.m., and dinner at the George Inn, Girton 8 p.m. Back-up support from Ann Gustard and Brian Kelk. (19 participants)
13. March 28th 1992. Simon Arrowsmith, Colin Bell, Julian Birch, Tony Cains, Bob Dowling, Ian Farquharson, Michael Greene, Timothy Luffingham, Gábor Megyesi, Jonathan Partington, Luke Reader, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Amites Sarkar, Arunes Sarkar, John Sherwood, Aldabra Stoddart, Mark Wainwright, Michael Williams; Martin Hardcastle to Willingham; David Goto, Marita van Vliet to Earith; Huw Walters to Somersham; Virginia Knight, Helen Partington, David Verrill, Helena Verrill to Crafty Fox; Martin Barlow from Crafty Fox to Earith. Weather dry until late evening, mostly dull and cloudy, very little sun. Train 8.26 a.m. (apart from 3 people who missed it and came by car and one who took a later train). Postcard written in Hungarian. Lunch at Crafty Fox 12.30ish, stops at Earith and Willingham, the White Horse (Oakington) and dinner in The George (Girton) for most (arrivals between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.). Back-up support from Ann Gustard, Brian Kelk and David Jackson. (27 participants)
14. March 27th 1993. Simon Arrowsmith, Julian Birch, Karl Ewald, Michael Greene, Martin Hardcastle, Virginia Knight, Timothy Luffingham, Jonathan Partington, Luke Reader, Gregory Sankaran, John Sherwood, Aldabra Stoddart; Colin Bell, Emma Body, Ian Farquharson, Gareth McCaughan, Huw Walters, Ian Wells to Willingham; Charles and Helen Partington to Doddington. Weather dry all day and sunny early on. Train 8.39 a.m. Postcard signed by famous explorers. Lunch at Crafty Fox 1.15ish, stops at Earith and Willingham, and dinner in The George (Girton) for most (arrivals after 8 p.m.). Back-up support from David and Fenella Jackson (who also walked Wimblington-Doddington with Mark and Dawn) and James and Mary Yardley at Girton. (19 participants)
15. March 26th 1994. Colin Bell, Julian Birch, Karl Ewald, Michael Greene, Martin Hardcastle, Virginia Knight, John Meredith, Jonathan Partington, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Aldabra Stoddart; Robin Michaels to Willingham; Alasdair Grant to Earith; Emma McCaughan (née Body), Gareth McCaughan, Luke Reader, Mark Wainwright to Crafty Fox; Charles and Helen Partington to Chatteris; David, Fenella, Mark and Dawn Jackson to Doddington. Weather dry and sunny all day. Train 8.54 a.m. Postcard signed in the names of celebrated loonies. Lunch at Crafty Fox 1.15ish, stops at Earith and Willingham, and dinner in The George (Girton) (arrivals at 7.35-8 p.m.). Back-up support from Keith Carne at Chatteris, Ian Farquharson at Crafty Fox, Brian Kelk at Willingham and Girton, and James and Mary Yardley at Girton. (21 participants)
16. March 18th 1995. Colin Bell, Michael Greene, Virginia Knight, Timothy Luffingham, John Meredith, Jonathan Partington, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Aldabra Stoddart; Mark Wainwright to Willingham; Michael Batty to Earith; Richard Tucker to Crafty Fox. Weather windy but mostly dry and quite sunny all day. Train 8.29 a.m. Postcard signed in the names of members of 12-element sets. Lunch at Crafty Fox 12.45ish, stops at Earith, Willingham and the White Horse (Oakington); dinner in The George (Girton) for some (arrivals from 8 p.m.). Back-up support from Ian Farquharson at Crafty Fox and Willingham (bringing the forgotten date bars), Brian Kelk at Earith, Willingham and Girton, and James and Mary Yardley at Girton. (12 participants)
17. March 23rd 1996. Colin Bell, Ian Farquharson, Alasdair Grant, Martin Hardcastle, Virginia Knight, Timothy Luffingham, Gábor Megyesi, Jonathan Partington, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Harriet Snape, Aldabra Stoddart; James Yardley to Willingham. Some drizzle a.m. but mainly dry. Train 9.05 a.m. (except for Alasdair Grant who caught a later one). Postcard signed in the names of religious fanatics. Crafty Fox 1.15 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. (delayed by an exploding microwave). Willingham 6.15, Girton 8.15. Back-up support from Brian Kelk and later James and Mary Yardley. (13 participants)
18. March 22nd 1997. Alan Bain, Colin Bell, Ian Farquharson, Matthew Ford, Michael Fryers, Timothy Luffingham, Jonathan Partington, Luke Reader, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Mark Wainwright; Huw Walters to Crafty Fox. Weather dry all day and often sunny. Train 9.05 a.m. Crafty Fox 1 p.m. The George, Girton 7.30 p.m. Postcard signed in the names of political party leaders. Back-up support from Rupert Moss-Eccardt and Ann Gustard at Crafty Fox and Girton; also James and Mary Yardley, and Helen and Charles Partington, at Girton. (12 participants)
19. March 21st 1998. Alan Bain, Colin Bell, Karl Ewald, Matthew Ford, Virginia Knight, Gábor Megyesi, Jonathan Partington, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, Fred Vas, Mark Wainwright; James Yardley to Long Stanton (a new latest giving-up point); Helen Partington to Chatteris. Weather cloudy and dry. Train 8.40 a.m, change at Ely. Honest John, Chatteris 12.30 (the Crafty Fox being closed). The George, Girton 7.30 p.m. (some also stopped at Oakington). Postcard signed in the names of thirteen unlucky people. Most took an innovative route along the old Chatteris-Somersham railway line. Back-up support from Martin Hardcastle in Chatteris, Brian Kelk at Willingham, and James and Mary Yardley at Girton. (13 participants)
20. March 20th 1999. Alan Bain, Timothy Luffingham, Jonathan Partington, Jennifer Siggers, James Yardley. Weather dull and cloudy but dry. Train 8.40 a.m. Honest John 12.15. All took the old railway line to Somersham. Earith 3.45 p.m, The George, Girton between 7.25 and 7.40 p.m. Postcard sent to 4-day old Naomi, daughter of two prominent Marchers (who were represented on this occasion by two boxes of date bars), in the names of characters from children's books (not the March Hare, however). A copy sent to DPMMS as usual. Library card belonging to Mr Smith of Chatteris found at Somersham, the first case of anything useful being done on the March March march. Support from Mary Yardley and Ian Farquharson at Girton. (5 participants)
21. March 18th 2000. Colin Bell, Ian Farquharson, Michael Greene, Virginia Knight, Timothy Luffingham, Gábor Megyesi, Jonathan Partington, Gregory Sankaran. Helen Partington, Charles Partington, Naomi Sankaran (in pram), John Sayers and Renata Sayers to Chatteris. James Yardley from Chatteris to Willingham via Flat Bridge Farm and Milking Hills Corner. Weather dry and sunny. Train 8.40 a.m. for most. Honest John 12.15-1.45 p.m. Disused railway line from Chatteris to Somersham. The George, Girton 7.15 p.m. Card signed by people with initials M.M. Back-up support from James and Mary Yardley at Girton. (13 participants)
22. March 31st 2001. Colin Bell, Rodolphe Dewarrat, Jonathan Partington, George Russell, Gregory Sankaran, James Yardley. Debbie Finucane to Earith. Helen and Charles Partington to Chatteris. Weather dry and occasionally sunny, but rather windy. Train 8.40 a.m. Crafty Fox (now reopened) 1.00-2.15 p.m. The route went entirely by road, owing to restrictions imposed because of Foot and Mouth disease. The Old Crown, Girton 7.30 p.m (the George having changed its telephone number, possibly in order to discourage Marchers). Card signed in the names of animals potentially able to catch Foot and Mouth. Attendance and back-up support from Ian Farquharson and son William, John Sherwood, and Mary Yardley at Girton. (9 participants)
23. March 9th 2002. Colin Bell, Jonathan Partington, Gregory Sankaran to the giving-up point (explained below). Helen and Charles Partington, Luke Reader to Chatteris. James Yardley from Chatteris to the giving-up point. Weather in the morning very windy, some sun, a few drops of rain. Train 8.42 a.m. (or train from London to Cambridge followed by taxi to March, in one case). Card signed in the names of famous explorers, by an uncanny piece of prescience. Honest John 12.30-1.45 p.m. approx. After lunch the four surviving marchers were hit by freak weather conditions, a Fen blow, consisting of gale-force winds and dust storms. Thus it was quadrilaterally decided to abandon the March near Billups' Siding Farm, on the disused railway line halfway between Chatteris and Somersham, and to stagger back to Chatteris by road, visiting the Crafty Fox en route to wash off some of the mud. Bus back to Cambridge 4.13 p.m. (7 participants)
24. March 29th 2003. Ian Glover, Jonathan Partington. Colin Bell to Willingham. Helen and Charles Partington to Chatteris. James Yardley from Chatteris to Willingham (with date bars made to a variant recipe). Weather dry but misty all day. Train 8.58 a.m. (change at Ely). Honest John 12.45 p.m. Disused railway line from Chatteris all the way to Somersham for the first time in 3 years. Between Earith and Willingham the route went via Flat Bridge Farm and Milking Hills Corner. Dinner at the George, Girton at 8 p.m. Card signed by people known for doing long walks. Attendance and back-up support from James and Mary Yardley, Colin Bell and Harriet Snape at Girton. (6 participants)
25. March 27th 2004. Colin Bell, Jon Hinde, Virginia Knight, Mark Wainwright. Not Jonathan Partington, for the first time. James Yardley from Chatteris to Willingham. Weather overcast to Long Stanton, then drizzle. Train removed from timetable so a taxi was hired to take participants to March. Started central March 9.55. Postcard of St. Wendreda's purchased by Virginia Knight in the church, and signed in the name of 'silver' people/animals. Honest John 12.35. To Willingham via Flat Bridge Farm and Milking Hills Corner, singing rounds. Refreshment stop at the White Horse, Oakington, and George, Girton at 7.45. Backup support from James and Mary Yardley at Girton. Date bars made by Gregory Sankaran and brought by Virginia Knight. (5 participants)
26. March 12th 2005. Ian Farquharson, Jonathan Partington; James Yardley from Chatteris. Weather sunny early on, dry throughout the day, but windy and very cold. Arrivals were by, respectively, car, train 8.32 a.m. (change at Ely), and bus. A near-copy of the 1988 "Barlow" route, via Chatteris (arrivals at the Honest John between 12 and 12.15, departures 1.15 p.m.), Sutton Gault, Mepal, Wardy Hill (one-sided date bars at 4 p.m.), Coveney, Frogs Abbey (now rebuilt), ending at Ely station at 6.15 p.m. Postcard sales in March this year were one fewer than usual. (3 participants)
27. March 11th 2006. Gregory Sankaran. Jonathan Partington to Willingham. Diana Galletly and James Yardley from Chatteris to Willingham. Catherine Osborne from Chatteris to Earith. Weather cold and sometimes windy, light flakes of snow near Somersham, some sunshine in the afternoon. Train 9.02 from Cambridge (or 7.40 from Leeds), or 11.30 bus to Chatteris. March 9.30, Doddington 11.00 for date bars, Honest John in Chatteris at 12.20. Lunch 1:15-2:00 at the Cross Keys (an innovation necessary because the Honest John was too busy), where a watercolour of the Crafty Fox was on display, price £70. Earith 4.45 p.m. for date bars, by footpaths to Willingham 6.15 p.m., where a car was already parked. Girton 7.45 p.m. but no suitable food, although back-up support from James and Mary Yardley and Diana Galletly appeared: dinner at La Margherita in Cambridge. Again it was not possible to find a postcard in March without an exhaustive search. (5 participants)
28. March 24th 2007.
Edward Thomas put it well:
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. (0 participants)
29. March 8th 2008. Virginia Knight. Colin Bell, Ian Farquharson, Jonathan Partington to Willingham. James Yardley from Chatteris to Willingham. Diana Galletly from Chatteris to Colne. Card signed in the names of people back from the dead. Weather breezy with occasional light showers. Train from Cambridge 0904 (or by train from Oakham in one case). Departed March 0950. Doddington 1115, photographed square TL3787. Lunch at the Cross Keys or at Petrou Bros. fish and chip shop in Chatteris 1245. Left Chatteris 1410, photographed square TL3682; Somersham 1610. Route to Colne village via ruins of old St. Helen's Church, Date bars at Colne 1700, Earith 1735, Willingham 1900, Oakington 2015, Girton 2045. Backup support at Willingham and Girton from James and Mary Yardley. (6 participants)
30. March 21st 2009. Antoine Richard, Peter Roberts, Gregory Sankaran. Ian Farquharson, Jonathan Partington to Willingham. James Yardley from Chatteris to Willingham. Card signed in the names of financial fraudsters. Weather exceptionally warm and sunny. Train from Cambridge 0900 (other arrivals by support car driven by Chris Jones or a delayed train from Oakham/Peterborough). Departed March 1000. Date bars at Doddington 1130, lunch at the Cross Keys, Chatteris 1255. Somersham 1600, Earith 1645 (more date bars), Willingham 1820, and bus at 1828 for several. The remaining marchers reached Girton at times between 1955 and 2055. Backup support at Chatteris from Cris Galletly (and a little marching), and Chris Jones, and at Girton from Cris Galletly and James and Mary Yardley. One wallet left in Chatteris (recovered), one date bar box left in Earith (not recovered). (6 participants)
31. March 27th 2010. Ian Farquharson to Willingham. Colin Bell to Chatteris. Jonathan Partington from Chatteris to Willingham. Cloudy and light showers in the morning, dry in the afternoon. Nobody could take the advertised 0900 train, since Cambridge station was closed by a fire. Arrivals by train from Oakham and buses from Chatteris and St Ives. The main party departed from March at 0930, and arrived for lunch at the Cross Keys, Chatteris, at 1220. Earith 1615 for refreshments, Willingham 1800 and The Black Bull pub, then the 1828 bus to Cambridge. Backup support at Chatteris from James Yardley and Cris Galletly, who later examined the recently-burnt St Mary's church in March then, with Mary Yardley, provided backup support at the Castle Inn, Cambridge around 1900. (3 participants)
32. March 19th 2011. Simon Cottrell, Luc Giraud, Tehnuka Ilanko, David Kubiznak, Susan Raich, Gregory Sankaran, Hana Storova, Steven Smith. Alban Sankaran and Naomi Sankaran (recipient of a personal postcard of March in 1999) to Somersham. Ian Farquharson to Chatteris, and then back to March again. Corinna Bauder, Man Chan, Frieder Haenisch, Jakub Tomasik, Qinwei Wang and Yichen Zhu to Chatteris. Train from Cambridge at 0900, plus one arrival from the opposite direction. Postcard signed in the names of kings and queens, in honour of the forthcoming royal wedding. Lunch at the Cross Keys, Chatteris, at 1245. Somersham 1600, Earith 1700, Willingham via the increasingly rickety Flat Bridge at 1820. Drink, and food for some, at the Black Bull in Willingham: then two walkers went via Longstanton, as below, arriving in Cambridge at 2200. The rest of the party left later and followed the guided bus route from Longstanton station, arriving in Cambridge at 2250, along with the mascots (Dylan the Sheep and Geraldine the Penguin). Backup support from Virginia Knight and Magnus Sankaran at Chatteris, and from James Yardley and Chris Galletly at Chatteris and Somersham. (17 participants)
33. March 17th and 18th 2012. Sara Basemera, Allan Del Rosario, Steven Smith, Mark Thurman, Madeleine Yates. Jonathan Partington to Mepal. Li Jia to Welney. Train left Cambridge at 8.25, being the much delayed 07.00 train in place of the intended 08.00 service. No postcards sent. Weather light rain most of the morning, dry in the afternoon, and rainy later. The walk was held in conjunction with the Cambridge University Rambling Club, and left March Station at 09.00, taking a 41-mile route via the Old Nene and Hereward Way (partly ploughed up), Christchurch 11.15 (date bars), Welney (lunch at the Lamb and Flag) 12.45 to 14.00, then along the Old Bedford River, pausing at the Visitors Centre 16.15, passing by Mepal 17.45, Earith 20.00 (picnic dinner and brief visit to Old Riverview Inn), High Bridge Farm 22.45, Rampton 00.00, walking along the guided busway to Histon 02.00 and Cambridge 03.15. Two Mascots (Dylan the Sheep and Annabel the Penguin) also completed the March. Backup support from James and Mary Yardley, and Cris Galletly, at Welney. (7 participants)
34. March 18th 2017. Colin Bell, Mark Thurman. Train from Cambridge at 0901, left March 0940, stops at the Cross Keys, Chatteris 1230-1330, Earith 1545-1600 and Willingham 1720, arriving Railway Vue, Histon at 1915. Postcard sent to DPMMS in the names of reboots that proved to be a mistake, and another normal one to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire from Histon. Overcast with occasional light drizzle. Route via the Earith-Willingham road (Flat Bridge now looking unsafe) and down the busway from Longstanton. Coverage on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and the BBC news site led to us being recognised in the pub in Chatteris. One gnome sighted in Wimblington. Backup support from Jennifer Lawler of the March Society who joined us from March station to the town centre, shared some history of the town and helped us source March postcards. (2 participants)
Many other people have walked some of a March March march but never an entire one: among them is Martin Barlow, who has walked all of the route in different years. Such partial March March marches are made possible by the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company and its successor organisations and, much more importantly, by drivers of support vehicles. Those who have driven support vehicles but not walked an entire March themselves are Brian Kelk, Keith Carne, Chris Jones, Mary Yardley, Rupert Moss-Eccardt and Ann Gustard (now Ann Auger), whose dedication to this cause has been celebrated in verse. It is said that MARCH stands for Mobile Ann Rescues Cowards Halfway.
Chatteris, Crafty Fox,
Somersham and Earith,
Willingham and Girton,
March March march!
March March march!
(and so on, and so on, and on).
For a 7" square baking tin (about 12 big bars) you need:
Grease the baking tin and line the bottom of it with greaseproof paper (it is easier to get the bars out afterwards if you proceed as in note 1 below).
Put the dates, plain flour, chocolate and 1/4 pint of water in a small saucepan and cook until the chocolate has melted and the mixture begins to thicken (about 5 minutes). Leave to cool.
Mix the self-raising flour (see note 2), sugar and oats and rub in the butter to make a sort of rough pastry.
Spread half (or slightly more) of this mixture over the bottom of the baking tin and beat down well with a wooden spoon, your hand, pocket steamroller or whatever else seems convenient (Mr Al-Khatraz uses a copy of A Suitable Boy for this purpose).
Pour (or spoon) the chocolate and date mixture over the layer of oat pastry.
Make the rest of the pastry into a sheet (it will be too sticky to roll with a pin) and put it on top of the chocolate, or just crumble it over (see note 3).
Bake at gas 5 = 190°C = 375°F for 25 minutes. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then cut into bars (see note 4) but do not take them out of the tin until they are completely cooled.
Note 1. Don't worry too much about how well the paper fits. It's just there to stop the bars sticking. If you just cut a length of paper long enough to cover the bottom and to come up the sides and out then you can use it to lift the bars out after you have made them.
Note 2. If, like me, you don't use self-raising flour you need about 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to go with the 4 oz of plain flour.
Note 3. When I do this the sheet is the wrong shape and breaks up into smaller bits when I try to put it on top of the mixture. But this really doesn't matter much. Just make sure you've covered most of it.
Note 4. I use a 10" square tin and make double quantities (as 10/7 is a good approximation to the square root of 2). I then divide the result into three in one direction and eight in the other and get 24 bars. 20 of them are then consumed by Marchers (that being all I can fit into the boxes I carry them in).
This has been redacted to save the authors embarrassment.