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EPISKOPI HASH HOUSE HARRIERS CYPRUS

(One Of The Last Gentlemen Only Hashes in The World)

Tales from the Crypt (Mike's Basement)

Ex On Pres' Mike Jones asked if we might put a "Tales From the Archives" section on the website. There is fair amount of quite interesting stuff in the various boxes he holds in his basement and he feels the need to drip feed them out into the Hash community. 

Some favoured "traditions" might suffer some bruising like "we have run every week since conception" etc where the truth is rather different but that's no bad thing. The Truth is out there!

#7 A break from the Basement on the subject of Handshakes!

Whilst not doing a tale from the basement this week am I allowed a thought on handshaking ?

Given both the UK and Italy have advised their populace not to shake hands indeed the Italians have now banned it. It is worth considering what  the gentlemen of the Hash, who let be said are great handshakers especially the On Pres', do instead ?

In 1922 Mussolini came to power in Italy just after the Spanish flu had wiped out some 20 million people worldwide and a considerable number in Italy.

Even back then it was recognised that hand shaking greatly helped spread the disease and Il Duce banned the practice and replaced it with Il Saluto Romano, the Roman Salute , which is achieved by extending the right arm forward at slightly above the right angle to the body with the palm down and fingers together. It is optional to then either say Salve (greetings) or click one heels together or do both.

As an ex On Pres I can see a certain merit in adopting this approach . One can envisage the On Pres rather than doing the rounds at the RV welcoming everyone with an handshake  he  would instead  mount the wooden dais, which was thoughtfully made by (Herr) Bruce for the 50th celebrations and offer the Hash Il Saluto Romano. Members of the Hash would then in unison return the gesture with one or perhaps two or even three separate salutes either shouting salve each time or for variation purposes only, something in another language like say German.

Sieg Heil for some reason comes to mind .

Indeed having drifted quite by accident into another language perhaps the gentlemen members might like to add rather than On Pres something like Mein Führer ?

This new practice would alleviate the need for any handshaking as Hashers could use Il Saluto Romano to greet one  another  and they might also  like to add a swagger stick or say a riding crop to their Hash wardrobe  that could then  be  tapped against the  left leg when giving Il Saluto.

A further benefit to this new approach would be to circumvent the no clapping rule during the Führer’s sorry the On Pres’s Crit.

Instead members , purely for encouragement , could give Il Saluto Romano at any pause whilst papers are being shuffled or punch lines forgotten with  accompanying shouts of encouragement in the German vernacular perhaps .

Anyway it’s just a suggestion that perhaps Il Duce Bollo with his pristine new Italian passport might want to consider implementing this Tuesday!

 

On, On,

Mike

#6 More Ripping Yarns from the Basement!

Last week we left a newly formed Hash House Harriers with a different ethos than other Hare and Hound clubs, that of a focus on non competitive running and plenty of socialising afterwards. They celebrated their 100th run on August 15th 1941 but only completed another 17 runs before the Japanese invaded the Malayan Peninsular. Most of the hashers were part of the volunteer force founded to help defend the Peninsular and several hashers distinguished themselves. Captain Gispert was killed defending Singapore.

It was a year after the end of hostilities when a few of the survivors reassembled at the Selemant Tinggil H3 Club among them “Torch” Bennett who discovered that the bank account the Hash had opened was still in place and put in a claim for war damage on one tin bath, two dozen mugs and two kit bags. The monies received allowed the Club to be revived and the first run was around the racecourse  as the racehorses had all disappeared so the place was deserted.

The Hash was in good shape until the Malaya Emergency  began in 1948 (https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/malayan-emergency) and then it fell foul of the curfew and restrictions of a gathering of over 10 persons. The authorities became more and more difficult and by 1951 the hash was experiencing real problems trying to organise any runs at all but life was about to get better.

In July 1951 the hares set off to lay a trail in the Cheras area now a part of greater Kuala Lumpur but then semi-jungle and rubber plantations. With the pack in hot pursuit the hares came across a clearing where some 16 men were sleeping. Recognising them as probable terrorists waiting for the evening to infiltrate K.L. they turned and ran to the nearest police station. The police alerted men of The Suffolk Regiment who asked how they might find the camp. “ Follow the paper trail” came the reply and this they did. Two of the terrorists caught had considerable prices on their heads and as Government employees couldn’t accept bounty payments the non governmental members of the Hash shared out the money. A fair old party was held at the Harper Gilgillan mess on Ampang Road to celebrate this success.

A few days later several members of MI5 (Malaya was still a colony so MI5 not MI6 looked after business there) arrived to chat to the Hashers. They had realised the Hash had valuable detailed local knowledge about many tracks and byways around K.L. and wanted to tap their brains to set up more ambushes.

The Hash was very much flavour of the month with an article appearing in The Times of London and the authorities decided to encourage them rather than close them down.

Dennis Bloodworth was The Observer newspaper’s Far East correspondent from 1954 till 1981. His first book the Eye of The Dragon was a series of reminisces of stories told to him by key players during the Emergency. This is one told to him by a major in an Officer’s Mess in 1955.

“We settled into our ambush positions in the jungle," the major told me, wiping the beer from his bristle, “automatic weapons trained on the path, and waited for the Communists to come. Suddenly we heard quick light steps up the track and” – he paused, banging his pewter tankard down on his knee with restrained violence – “hang it if fifteen chaps in vests and running shorts from a local club called the Hash House Harriers didn’t come trotting past as if they were on Hampstead Heath.”

 

Marvellous isn’t it?

 I’ll give you all  a break for a couple of weeks then I'll delve into our own early records.

 

On, On,

Mike

#5 Back in the Basement!

The Chinese Nationalist government closed down the Shanghai Hare and Hound Club in 1928 which is probably just as well as otherwise, who knows, we might all have needed to have a horse to go hashing.

But this from The Malay Mail April 19 1932 keeps us  on track , “36 turned out on Sunday for the final run this season of the Kuala Lumpur Harriers. The hares were greatly helped just after the start by monsoon rains arriving to wash away part of the trail they had laid before the hunt set off and throughout the run especially around Pudu Hill the hunters found it difficult to chase the hares down .“ There were several well organised  Hare and Hound or Harriers as they were called operating in Malaya. The Kinta Harriers that sprang up around the tinfield in Ipoh were probably the earliest being  set up in 1913.There were also loosely knit groups of keen runners one such being in Johore Bahru.

Frederick “Tommy” Thomson recalled joining the group in 1932 and was quite candid as to the real start of hashing . “We hunted human hares and we mainly used The Civil Service Club in J.B. in fact we started the hash there in 1932. Then we started another one in Malacca, the Springett Harriers a year later. Kualar Lumpur came much later.”  

The Springett Harriers was a bastion of the Malay Civil Service but Albert Stephen Gispert , a chartered accountant often ran with them . Young expat  bachelors in the various Malayan towns in those days had their own mess where they slept, ate and drank. The monotony of the food menu in some messes or houses was such that the bachelors called everything they ate there hash rather than by the supposed name and such houses became know as hash houses.

One such was the Civil Service Club in J.B. another the Selangor Club Chambers and I could, of course, now just say and the rest is history but perhaps first an insight written by C.H. Lee in 1958 .

“Gispert" was the real driver and founder of the Hash House Harriers as we now know it - a man of great charm and wit, he would be delighted to know that the harriers are still going strong. He was not an athlete and he laid great stress on the subsequent refreshment rather than pure but austere, as he saw it, running. Our hash was non- competitive and abounded in slow packs. Life was conservative rather than competitive and celebrations were often.“ Sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it.

Next week the Malayan Emergency and how the Hash was saved from extinction.

On, On,

Mike

#4 The Origin of the Trash!

For those of you who will be fortunate enough to be able to run on this upcoming Tuesday’s Run ( I’m one of the Hares hence the ad)  you might as you walk or trot around the trail like to think about how it is you come to be out on a Tuesday doing said walking or trotting whilst following a trail.

Well it all started in 1819 at Shrewsbury School one of the original 8 Public Schools, fees by the way are £13280 a term, with the forming of The Royal Shrewsbury Hunt . Two boys ( foxes) were selected to lay a paper trail which the rest of the School ( the hounds) followed in the hope of chasing down the foxes ( the kill) . If the hounds were unsuccessful the course was about 10 miles long laid mainly over rough  farmland. Quickly other Public schools followed their example and set up similar clubs. Rugby School of “ he picked up the ball and ran” fame having the most famous run called The Crick.

1868 saw the first  adult club The Thames Hare and Hounds Club  on Wimbledon Common established not by the wombles but by rowers from Thames Rowing Club who wanted to stay fit in the winter.

Hare and Hounds being quite a mouthful many Clubs  became just the Harriers.  However in parts of the British Empire , mainly the Malay Peninsular and China where the sport was prevalent Hare and Hounds was still very much used .

The Shanghai Hare and Hounds Club established circa 1880 was famous for the hounds being on horseback whilst still following a paper trail laid by running hares who one presumes had more than a 15 minute head start. They are also famous for refusing to cancel their hunt in August 1927 despite a battle taking place over their laid course between the Shanghai  Defence Forces lead by British troops of the Punjab Regiment and The Chinese Nationalists Army . Both side complained to there respective consular officials and the Club was reprimanded despite a spirited defence arguing that they had been holding a weekly hare and hounds meeting for 40+ years on that land so  long before the two opposing sides decided to have a battle there and that unlike the two warring sides they had always paid for any damage done to land, crops , houses or local residents and would continue to do so.

Next week Malaya .

On, On,

Mike

#3 Tales from Mike's Basement!

When we left the newly formed Episkopi Hash House Harriers a few weeks ago ( I went to the UK ) the Hash had just put out what might have been it’s first notice advising  the run details for the  November 13th 1967 run. In answer to a few queries, there is mention in the Archives of Gris’s move being delayed and this historian is trying to find out more from the SBA archives as this would explain the long gap between the move of the Dhekelia hashers apart from Gris and the start date. Though personally if that run notice was the first ever run then clearly marketing was not a talent possessed by either of the joint masters nor the President.

Perhaps therefore it is not a surprise that recruiting hashers was as slow as it is today ! However the first year was a great year for firsts  20th Nov first run in Happy Valley, 27th Nov first run cancelled ( lack of numbers) , 4th December first run in South Paramali , 11th Dec first run along the Paramali Track, 18th Dec first run at Curium Hill .

The average number of runners on each hash was just 12 and there were but 25 members in total by the end of November 1968 . Indeed they only found another 5 members by the end of 1969 and after a few minor rises still found themselves by November 1975 back to  just 29 members and an average of only13 turning up to run.

The year Nov ’67- Nov ’68 saw just 47 runs take place and in 1969-69 just 48 runs . However the Hash in those days ran on a Monday and if a Bank Holiday fell on a Monday there was no run as everyone had a holiday. It took On. Pres  Tank Sherman ‘ The Stickler ‘ ( more on these nicknames in a later Tale) to change it to Thursday following complaints from the RAF members that Monday was supposed to be a full working day for everyone whilst  Thursday was an afternoon off but clearly the Army could take any afternoon off so let’s move it.

Those 12 hashers each week in 1967/8  consumed 452 large  bottles of Keo and 112 large bottles of  Carlsberg  (oh dear yes I’m sorry purists but Carlsberg was happily consumed for many years ) and the mathematicians amongst you will quickly realise that that is just one bottle per hasher per run !!

No wonder they were struggling to find new members as what on earth  had happened to the Hash’s " runners with a drinking problem" tag line !! These guys were almost teetotallers !!

Next week we will add some more grist ( almost a pun)  to the mill on the history of Hashing.

 

On, On,

Mike

#2 No Mountaineering! Pat Chapman won't like this.

Was this the  document that launched 3000 hashes ? ( with apologies to Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faust line about Helen of Troy ).

The first run (?) was located at Episkopi Air Strip . The Hares were Andrew Scobie and Alex Cadman who took along his dog Shandy. The President Brigadier Gris Davies-Scourfield C.B.E. M.C. Ran out from the gates of Episkopi in the photo everyone had seen . He was very used to getting out of camps as in 1940 after being wounded 4 times during the defence of Calais he was captured  and taken to a POW camp in Laufen Bavaria which he quickly tunnelled out of but was captured and taken to a Stalag X11 at Poznan . This he escaped from through the front gates in June 1941 by hiding in a cart. Captured again his reward was being taken to Colditz Castle which he then duly escaped from again through the front gates  hidden in yet  another cart. He was nothing if not persistent . Captured again trying to cross into Holland with forged papers he served the rest of the war on the Escape  Committee at Colditz. As On Pres' I bet his Crits were interesting! 

But as you look closely at the run notice your eyes like so many before you will quickly alight on the  line: “ Start will be at 1600hrs ( NOT 1630hrs) at Episkopi Airstrip “ .

Now this notice has nothing to suggest it is any thing other than the original notice about a H3 run . Nothing on it says it is an amendment or a re-issue it is just a piece paper that would have turned up in your in-tray as a serving officer. So what about ( NOT 1630hrs ) . Surely say many an ex On Pres there must have been previous runs that were run at 1630hrs and this one was the first to be run at 1600hrs and the change merely reflects the fact that it was getting darker so to be able to do a 45min run the start time needed to move forward 30 minutes. 

Could it be that this then perhaps was just the first run on which Gris took part in or as ex On Pres' Cmdr. “Tank” Sherman RN  suggests in a paper was it that the two hashes Dhekelia and Episkopi for a time ran as two Divisions of one single Hash called the Cyprus H3 and used the same run numbers especially as all of the Episkopi Hashers had started the Dhekelia Hash in January and already had runs credited . This single Hash and two divisions  was Gris’s original plan but on Nov 13th he realised it was unworkable and pointless and the two separated into two individual hashes ? 

Oh boy will we ever know ? Looking at the ages of the Hashers in that original photo there must be a few still alive . If only we could ask them. 

 In our next instalment in February, we'll be taking a look at how the struggling Epi H3 moved forward .

#1 Origin of the Species!

 

Take this first one, the notice of a Hash General Meeting on June 12th 1967 to decide on the appointment of 2 Joint Masters for the newly forming Episkopi  H3 Division as well as voting in a new President for Dhekelia.

Innocent enough you might think but many an On Pres has carefully studied the wording of this memo over the years and many a thought has been formulated. 

The key phrases are " a few months " and " The appointment of a new President for Dhekelia" 

A " few months ... before the division " must mean just that so the memo written in early June means the move must have taken place either in say August or early September 1967. 

The new President for Dhekelia must infer that  Gris was moving at the same time as the main body that included  the new branch of Episkopi H3 to Episkopi Garrison otherwise why replace him on June 12th ? 

So many an On. Pres in the past has wondered aloud that if new JMs for Episkopi H3  were already in place by June24th  and the founder of the Hash and the new President of Episkopi H3 was moving with the main body in say late August why didn't the new Hash start running until November 13th 1967 ? Or,  maybe they did ?

 Next weeks thrilling instalment adds some meat to this bone!