FROM: Rory
HASH No 2000 2 February 2019, 3pm
Hares: Jonathan, Harriet and Jackie
Start and après: Groenendaal Station Car Park

At 12.01, the news, like the unusual weather, fell from the sky. It was snowing so heavily that any trail was quickly covered in minutes. The hares sent out an email explaining the hash would become a walk over the same terrain that had been extensively recced the previous week.

This set off alarm bells among purists. Would it count as a hash? Would we have to wait until the following Saturday to reach the landmark? Would our many visitors from abroad demand their money back? Should we bother turning up at all?

Minds were swiftly put at rest. Pragmatism ruled. At least one blob of flour would be deposited. As it happened, the visible material used was biodegradable cat litter. In another break from normal practice, it was not deposited before the hash for front runners to find – they followed a hare who was metaphorically waving an umbrella over his head in true tourist mode – but at key junctions to signpost the route for slower walkers following behind.

The pack congregated slowly and warily in the slush of the station car park. As the clock ticked towards 3pm, a casual passer-by could have been forgiven for thinking a small car boot sale was in progress. From the back of one vehicle, pristine t-shirts were changing hands for a mere €18 a time. From the back of another, there seemed to be a healthy trade in bottles of beer.

Soon it was time for a few historic group photos and then off. The trail was slippery and slushy – definitely not conducive to running, although some did try. While several wore running shoes, the more sensible had solid walking boots and the most sensible, in true Farmer Giles style, wellingtons, hat and walking stick.

The most popular past-time, apart from ambling along and catching up on news, in some cases after gaps of several years, was throwing snowballs, particularly among the young and young at heart. In the wintry conditions, it seemed entirely normal when we came upon a small herd of Highland cattle eyeing us with bored incomprehension.

All too soon it seemed, the 4.6km trail took the pack across the pedestrian pathway over the Ring at the Groenendaal junction to arrive back at the station in just around an hour. The main topic of conversation at the short après was frequent requests for a bottle opener. There were plenty of liquid supplies, but a dearth of openers. Luckily, Julian R was on hand and generously shared his personal one, much to everyone’s relief.

Turnout: 40-45 (including a strong contingent from the BMPH3 to help mark our achievement)

Weather: drizzle and dismal, but this did not dampen spirits (Sod’s law: Sunday was dry, bright and sunny)

☹ ☹ ☹
2000th Celebratory dinner 2/2/2019, 7.30pm

Start and après:
Foyer De Warandepoort, Tervuren

Hare: Marleen

The most numerous (and well dressed) Brussels Hash turnout ever with over 70 participants. Our ranks included almost 20 former members who returned to join us from the UK, Denmark and Switzerland and five originals from the very first hash over 38 years ago.

In the time-honoured Saturday afternoon tradition of a brief pep talk before normal proceedings begin, Peter C addressed the assembled pack. He welcomed everyone, especially the travellers from afar; thanked those, particularly Jonathan, who have contributed to the hash’s success and longevity; and eloquently expressed his (and others’) deep appreciation of the genuine support hash members give others when the going gets hard or illness strikes.

Next up was Hugh D, our forceful master of ceremonies. He welcomed returning Brussels hashers with an appropriate pithy comment for each individual; surprisingly mentioned in despatches Julian R (JR probably opened his beer earlier at the après – ed) and Rory (perhaps HD wanted a sympathetic write up – ed); and paid tribute to all On Secs emeritus present (Marleen, Jackie, Harriet) and extant (Jonathan, otherwise known as Rite On Sec). This was the cue for Harriet to present Rite On Sec with a fancy bottle of champagne for all his work for almost two decades and a token of our appreciation to Katie for masterminding the new t-shirt and the hash website.

The entertainment continued after the tasty main course. John Robinson, a co-founder of the Brussels hash and Mesitersinger par excellence had travelled from Germany that morning to present the world premiere of his latest work penned especially for the occasion: The Seven Ages of the Hash. Many of the ageing audience smiled wryly – some even laughed – as they recognised themselves advancing through most of the stages

George Trevelyan brought the meal, but not the evening, to a close, by presenting thanks on behalf of all the visitors and reading out some personal hash reflections and observations from Ellen Sweet-Escott who was unfortunately unable to join us, before presenting flowers to Marleen for all her hard work.

Special thanks to :
Marleen for launching the initiative and driving it forward so successfully
Rite on Sec for keeping his cool while efficiently sending out flurries of emails
Katie for her tastefully designed t-shirt with its uncanny resemblance to the Scottish Saltire
Hares for bowing to the inevitable and making the very best of an impossible situation.
Simon Lunn introduced hashing to Brussels and hosted the first BH3 one on 29 November 1980. The run took place from Simon’s house on the edge of the bluebell woods. Now an annual classic on our agenda, but much earlier in the year. His co-hare was John Robinson.
The 21 inaugural hashers were recruited from personal contacts, the now defunct Corkscrew English pub near Rond Point Schuman, readers of John’s weekly sports column in The Bulletin and Peter C’s Chateau commune.
Simon had just spent six months in Washington and had hashed with the Washington female hash. Circles, down downs, songs, nicknames, committees and payments to run were NOT their thing. Simon replicated that same easy-going approach on the first hash and we have successfully stuck with it ever since.
Of the 21, five were present at the 2000
th dinner: John, Keith, Hugh Richardson, Patrick Tyson-Cain and Rory. Hugh Dow counts as an honorary member as he set off for the hash, but could not find the start. He had more success with the second hash and laid the third. Mary Gow, who sent a greetings telegram from New Zealand to the 2000th, was also on the first.
We may be well ahead of the BMPH3 who need some 300 hundred more hashes to hit 2000, but we are well behind Hong Kong. As our member David Hosie informed us over the weekend, he was on the first Hong Kong hash in 1958.
Finally, after a particularly successful weekend, a toast:
To all BH3 hashers past, present and future

FROM: David & Alma

Greetings to all from Singapore.  My only claim to fame is to have been on the First Run in Hong Kong 1958.    
We would have come had we not been in Singapore where our Belgian family is now living.  
We will be returning to run with you occasionally, and walking too.

FROM: Mary & Tony

Dear Hashers
Congratulations to all on the occasion of the 2000th Brussels Hash House Harriers. STOP
We are with you in spirit tonight. STOP
It was an honour to have taken part on Hash Number One on November 1980. STOP
Special greetings to those other Originals! STOP
Have a great night... STOP

FROM: Ellen & Ian
(edited version read by Georges T)

Dear Hash Family

We are sad not to be with you all on this momentous occasion. The truth is that one of the products of a hash relationship (ours, that is) has a big birthday this weekend and we thought she would not want to spend it with a load of sweaty runners.

Ian arrived in Brussels in 1982 to work at UKREP whose main priorities was to "get our money back” and later (believe it or not) to complete the Single Market. He was introduced to the Hash by the late great John Houston and inspired by another late great - Barry Richardson - to embark on a marathon running career in the course of which he became notorious for a tendency to vomit black bile somewhere after the 30k mark.

Ellen came to look after Hugh and Win Burton's children in 1983. But led astray early on, she soon abandoned childcare on Saturday afternoons in favour of taking up running - and everything else the hash had to offer. She was not put off by, early in her time in Brussels, witnessing Katie rushing into the Burtons' kitchen to rehydrate after a traumatic experience with Graham Preston’s car glove compartment. Jackie can verify this story if required. 

We both have great hash memories - here are a very few...

  • the weekly challenge of finding the start in pre SatNav days; 
  • fun weekends with interesting sleeping arrangements; 
  • Peter’s booming commands; 
  • Keith Brown’s post-run improvised shower hanging from Foret de Soignes beech trees; 
  • David Morgan trying to launch himself in an improvised flying machine; 
  • the Copenhagen marathon; 
  • getting lost; 
  • the Brussels 20km; 
  • Ian disentangling Hugh Dow from a vicious barbed wire fence;
  • the 3pm hash running into late night parties; 
  • dancing to Beeline; 
  • and most of all fun company and sharing good times - and some sad ones too.

In the early days it seemed to be about running, sex and drink. After a series of hash liaisons - not untypical in the 1980s - we got together on a hash weekend at Faux-les-Tombes 33 years ago.

Its well over 25 years since we left Brussels but it’s really like coming home when we return to the Hash. On our periodic trips to Brussels, it now seems to be about walking, pensions and retirement… But there is nothing wrong with that - the warmth, camaraderie, fun and beer are still at the heart of the unique hash.

Have a fantastic evening and here’s to the next 2000. We might not all be there to see it but we’ll all be there in spirit with our beer and cheer, so let’s
raise our glasses to that…


The Seven Ages of the Hash: A Play in Seven Acts

One star-filled night, with beer and wine content
I dreamt I saw the Hash House in the sky
Whence came a heavenly body by me nigh
And though my stare was fixed and focus hard
I failed at first to recognise the Bard –
But there himself was Will, the world his stage,
Who then confessed: “Being now mature in age
Perhaps on second thoughts I got it wrong”
And shared his doubt with me in voice still strong:

“Is all the world a stage? –or just a hash?
The actors being hashers and hashettes
The stage a check - a cross upon life’s trail
They make their exits and their entrance through -
Alike for female harrier as for male,
The play’s seven acts the seven ages too
Of our good hasher’s life. First the sprinter
Bursting through bush and briar o’er babbling beck
Scenting the flour, like fevered harrier hound
(Though one such here tonight is scarcely to be found)
Bolts back triumphant first to every check.
This rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last
Nor does it for his sudden flame dies fast.

Enter next the athlete to the hasher’s scene
He strides serene and lean, with beaming mien
Surveys mere mortals who must huff and puff
While he glides by sweat-free with breath enough

To shout “On On!” - his pulse still slow as snail
His step as quick as silver on the trail
And always keen to run that extra mile
With fluency akin to Rory’s writing style.

And then the lover, faded athlete he
Heads up the cast of Harrier Act 3.

His breathing heavier now, but not too weak
To sigh sweet nothings to his mistress’ cheek,
Whispers “Back check! Back check!” with meaning rare
As loving eyes pursue the lady’s derriere
Now leaps to join her like a bounding hare.
Alas! Just then jog by a group of hashers mixed
Their curious gaze at what they see transfixed
Then shout the womenfolk: “Me too! Me too”
As do the men, but from a different point of view,
Which puts him off his stride and cools his loins
And faute de mieux the jogging group he joins.

Lover no more, it is as jogger that he starts Act 4.

Less bounding hare than plodding tortoise now
He knows that once he ran but no more how
To keep airborne both feet at the same time
(A feat as rare as synonyms that rhyme)
And so, perplexed yet modestly astute
Discards his trainers and removes track-suit
And walks.

Now welcome then the rambler to our stage
The hasher’s fifth decelerating age
His purpose being not to walk the talk
But quite the contrary to talk the walk
(Two worldviews different as is cheese from chalk)
And so the conversation rambles on
A gossip column (pray allow that pun)
Way off the trail – which turned right at the fork.

And thus the rambler does the ambler now become
So launching our Act 6, the last but one.

Ambler, spelt rambler but with no first ‘R’,
Without much more besides, seeks out the flour
In vain, till guided by the layer of the trail
Back to the Après from beyond the pale.
Lo! Comes the harrier’s seventh and final state
He crawls from pub to pub from crate to crate
And as he takes the Hash’s curtain call
His youthful prowess can he still recall.
Tipsy on dreams of a once glorious past
He primps himself before his looking glass
Yet knows his hands move faster now to beer
Then ever did his feet in full career.

Thus ends this little life in monologue
Not with a sleep but with a fitting epilogue:

Hashers and friends, I pray you will agree
To take a pause to marvel now with me
Or on your ways on Saturdays you dash
To wonder at this thing you own for free
Our unique company, the Brussels Hash
No uniforms, no rules, no member’s fee
No overheads, no profits and no loss
That paradox of chaos theory
A sporting body with no running costs!

So sprinters, athletes, lovers, joggers all
Ramblers, amblers and those of us that crawl
Now raise a glass to these our ages seven
And to that Hash House high in seventh heaven.