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The Birth Of Singapore Hash House Harriers - Father Hash

by Ian Cumming (RIP)


"Shortly after our arrival in Singapore, in 1961, my wife and I became aware of the eerie dearth of activity following weekends, and although she has denied it vehemently ever since, Jane was the first to suggest that what was lacking was the Hash. I discussed this with the only other ex-KL Harrier I knew in Singapore, Chris Verity, and we both agreed that although the terrain on the island was totally lacking in Hashability, having almost no rubber plantations or tin tailings, it might be worth a try. Accordingly, I wrote to John Vincent, HonSec of the KL Hash, telling him of our intent to start up, and requesting names of Hashers extant in Singapore, and enquiring about the certificate of registration (required under the current emergency powers). I also phoned him to see what the relationship was to be between the two Hashes, and the required reporting protocol. Whether John knew it or not, his response established the incredibly enlightened tone of International Hashing that has endured for 35 years. He said something like: "I dunno. Do what the hell you like. Nothing to do with us. Let us know how you get on."

I invited some twenty or more acquaintances to a run starting off Adam Road to be followed by bangers and mash, and 15 or so showed up. There has been a run every Monday night since, save two occasions during Confrontasi when, owing to curfews, we had to stay off the streets. Early runners included Tommy Voice, ex-KL and Chief of Police in Johore Bahru, and first Jointmaster along with me. When he set trail, he took a squad of police with him armed with parangs to carve a unique path.

Chris Verity was HonSec and made his mark one day by standing, arms akimbo in the middle of kampong during a check and yelling in his piping English accent: "Well, somebody ask the bloody villagers which way they went!" Other names that spring to mind are Doug Smith, John Gastrell (who held Tuesday lunch-time newsletter editing conferences), and of course John O'Rourke who together with Peter Flanagan and Harry Howell probably enhanced the anti-establishment nature of the Hash more than anyone else. Curly Lee, Cecil's brother, was also seen to stroll a few yards up the trail from time to time.

Early Landmark events included the first ever InterHash. We drank the train dry before we reached Keluang and at every subsequent stop sent runners in all directions to buy up all the cold beer they could find.

Also in the mid-60's we were joined at one of our OnOns by Torch Bennett. His accounts of the early days held our interest long into the night. As a matter of history, the Singapore Hash remained male only, rotated officers annually (except HonSec), did not hold elections, did not perform circles, did not use live hares except in emergency, did sing loud and long at every opportunity and did not issue Hash names. That other Hashes do things differently and revel in it, is the legacy of John Vincent insight."

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