What follows is the original edit of a recruitment letter I posted to my lab members in an effort to bring out some new flesh to the Hash [final version tacked on after the last of the photos--I didn't want to frighten anyone off]. It might interest some of you, as well (or, if elsewhere, find yourself a local hash and give it a go…Google ‘Hash House Harriers’ and your town or city and odds are something will come up):
I’ve taken some stick from fellow members of the Oxford Hash House Harriers for
1) not showing up for trails in awhile, and
2) never bringing any new recruits.
The next Hash (as the weekly events are known) that I will attend is a special one, at 7 pm on 25th July 2012 celebrating the birthday of the founder of hashing, one A. E. I. Gispert. Since the trail (this time) starts from the James Street Tavern in Oxford, it is less likely to involve river crossings, brambles or thick mud (all part of what is collectively known as ‘shiggy’) than trails starting in rural settings, but you can never really be certain. Although rides to-and-from OH3 Starts are easy to beg I usually can’t be asked; this one, however, is only a short jog from the University (map from PTCL, here) so I have no excuse.
Hashers love celebrating special occasions: here are some folks at a Halloween Hash dressed as “Princess Die” and “WTC 9:05 am”
Nor do many of you, and I hope this note will find someone interested in trying out this entertaining, erm, form of exercise…no, that’s not it…uh, social activity…nope…maybe ‘cult’ is the closest thing but a lot less organised than most. Hashing really is an entity unto itself, and no explanation ever really comes to grips with its essence (nor shall the one that follows). It has a humble history, a global reach and more varieties than active chapters (or ‘kennels’).
Hashing involves too much to explain in a short note like this and, as I am recruiting, I will leave out much. Essentially, you meet at the Start and talk bollocks for awhile, circle up for last-minute, pre-run instructions from the person who set the trail for the day (the ‘Hare’), new people will be instructed on how the trail markings work and how the rest of the ‘Pack’ instruct or inquire (on the run) as to whether or not the trail has been found, then you run or walk the trail which can go literally anywhere. After about an hour, you will find the end of the trail (the ‘On-Inn’) where, at OH3 events, there will be food and drink awaiting (at many other hashes, only drink awaits). When all have turned up, the Pack forms the ‘Circle’ and good deeds are rewarded with beverage and song, ill actions are punished with beverage and song, and sometimes beverage and song occur for no really good reason.
Someone might get naked and you might see someone famous
Why would anyone come out? Well, your first time is free (at Oxford, and some others…in fact, rumour has it that at Oxford the small fee isn’t charged the first 3 times), the Circle is a laugh, and no one is really monstrous (except for those that are).
If you find you like Hashing, you will also find that anywhere you go (anywhere: some astronauts are hashers) you won’t be too far from a trail. It is a truly worldwide phenomenon, although the rites and traditions vary greatly from kennel-to-kennel. If you are unfortunate enough to travel somewhere at a time that a trail isn’t happening nearby you can still probably find local hashers that will suggest a good bar and then meet you there (be forewarned, this is not always a good thing, but it will usually make for a good story, nonetheless).
All beliefs are tolerated
I mentioned tradition because of the widely repeated cliché that there are no rules in hashing (except that one, and maybe some others), but Tradition is strictly enforced and wildly celebrated. At no hash are new shoes tolerated (but, they won’t be new after Circle). Some hashes punish athletic clothing or, indeed, any show of athletic prowess. An Oxford H3 Tradition is that odd socks are worn (word to the wise). A new Tradition may be introduced at any moment and be in force for any amount of time deemed necessary by the GM, the Religious Advisor (RA), the Beer Meister, or any of a multitude of other official entities you might encounter.
Alas, these explanations are hopeless. Accurate details sound like wild exaggeration, yet the deeds described are never so wild as an accurate explanation sounds…in fact, most of it is fairly low-key and quietly social although I’ve seen arrests, international incidents [sic, and mea maxima culpa], unexpectedly bad behaviour from otherwise staid individuals and unexpectedly good behaviour from obvious fiends more times than I can count. I have hashed for over eleven years (three of which with Oxford) all over the planet and have made many friends, of sorts, in doing so.
There’s no need to contact me about this, but feel free if you want to. It makes no difference, now. From here on, any details I serve up will be meant to deliberately mislead you (and another word to the wise, don’t follow me on trail because I rarely follow trail anyway and usually miss the On-Inn, although rarely the Circle…a personal Tradition).
There…I have done my part. See you Wednesday. On-on.
My house in Tucson was on the final flight path about a mile from Davis-Monthan AFB. I paint this for the pilots who approached the runway at an altitude about 500ft above this roof.
Not hashing but hash related…the 30 Pack Marathon (the 2012 edition recruiting participants here) and the Great British Beerathon in August.
==========The copy that went out to the research colleagues is below=========
This has nothing to do with work, so is unusual for one of my notes.
Keywords–Free Beer, Exercise, Nothing At All Like Exercise, Beer.
And, more beer. And, rude songs and beer.
Read on, or not…I promised to try and get new folks to try this but don’t really expect anyone to do so:
1) not showing up for trails in awhile, and
2) NEVER bringing any new recruits.
I would try to explain what Hash House Harriers
is, as an organisation, but for the fact that it is so disorganised. It must be experienced, which sometimes takes a couple of visits to realise just what it is about.
The first Hash was started by some Brits in Malaysia in the 1930′s
to ‘get some exercise’ and to ‘sate the subsequent thirst.’ There are literally thousands of chapters worldwide and you can almost always find a trail being run anywhere you go or, failing that, other hashers who want to meet up and show you a bit of the town. There’s no governing body (god forbid) and each Hash has very few things in common with others except for these:
A. Hashing is a very social activity. The local branch meets at a pub immediately before each trail and retires back there immediately after. Variations on this theme are rampant.
B. There is an opportunity to get some exercise (although this is quite easy to avoid by joining the walking group which will do a much shorter but usually no less entertaining trail). Some special events (like the 30-Pack Marathon
) are more rigourous than others, but bunking off in the middle is a time honoured Tradition.
C. You see a bit of the area you might not normally see. For outside-of-Oxford trails, swaths of countryside are involved (including the possibility of fording streams or pushing through brambles or worse). In Tucson
and Las Vegas
you might explore a bit of the storm sewer systems; I have personally set trails that climbed to the top of mountains where I had earlier stashed beer for a mid run break during a full moon that was emerging over a nearby city in the distance. Recent Worldwide InterHashes (meetings of hashers globally) have been held in Thailand, Borneo, and Australia; there is one next year in Kenya and National ones (Nash Hashes) draw just as wide a variety of hashers to sites of natural beauty and high densities of drinking establishments.
D. It is a laugh. At the end of the trail there is always the “Circle,” which for Oxford hashes is preceded by some freshly prepared food and some beverages. At the Circle, crimes against the hash Traditions (there are no Rules, except that one, and maybe a few others) are punished with mockery, a song, and a beverage; praiseworthy acts are rewarded with mockery, a song, and a beverage. You probably don’t know the songs, but may know the tunes; many are (or are based on) old regimental or rugby songs (the Circle is a post Rugby match tradition) and that may give you some idea what to expect.
The Traditions (not Rules) are strictly enforced but many of them are contradictory and capricious so don’t worry too much about it (sort of the Mornington Crescent
school of activities). Some are made up on the spot. Traditions common to all hashes include a prohibition against new shoes (really, follow this one…they shouldn’t even look new). Athletic behaviour is usually noted and punished severely (many Hash kennels–as the individual clubs are known–punish obvious athletic clothing as well). Oxford has a Tradition of wearing odd socks…I don’t think anyone remembers how this started. Every year there is a Red Dress Run sponsored by each kennel. I haven’t seen much nudity at English hashes and none at Oxford (which due to the poorly toned condition of most of us is quite a blessing); if you take up the mantle of ‘hasher’ and go to the States, I can direct you to the ones where the threat of nudity is more (or less, if you prefer) likely to occur.
Oxford also has a Tradition that the first Three visits to the Hash are free (thereafter £3, usually, which is still a bargain for the food and beverage alone). So, poverty is no excuse for new folks (drinks at the pub is on your own tab, though).
If you arrive at or before 7, there will be time for an explanation of the trail markings and what the various shouts mean (mostly ways to determine if someone ahead of you or heading in an odd direction is ‘On Trail’ or ‘Looking’ for signs of trail). Do not follow me, as I am rarely On Trail; something of a personal Tradition is turning most Trails into a mini pub crawl then showing up late at the Circle…I’m not the only one, but I dare not speak for the others.
You needn’t contact me about this, just show up in something that can get muddy and sweaty (or, try it somewhere else if you feel adventurous). The Hashers will be bunched together somewhere in the Tavern and easy to spot (several always show up a little early here, but other kennels are notoriously late). Buy yourself a beer or something and go introduce yourself, or I’ll introduce you when I arrive if I’m not already there. As mentioned, it is a weekly event and you can almost always weasel a ride to and from the Trails when they are in more remote locations.
As they say, On-On,