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Half a Mind

Believe it or not, there was a time when newspapers didn’t lead off articles about the Hash House Harriers by describing us as members of a drinking club with a running problem. Back in a kinder & gentler age, you were far more likely to see this instead, a quote attributed to a hasher named Phil Kirkland:

If you’ve half a mind to join the hash, that’s all you need.

You don’t see the quote that often today, but we still call ourselves half-minds, and that’s where it comes from. When I started the Half-Mind Catalog in 1995, I put Kirkland’s quote on the front page, and it’s still there today (although I see now I didn’t get it exactly right).

Last night, a friend and fellow hash webmaster forwarded this email, thinking I might have some additional knowledge:

Squatta here, Manila H3 archivist, hashtorian, onsec, scribe and general factotum … since 1983. Do you know the full citation for the 1978 interview with Phil Kirkland that popularized the “half mind” epithet for hashers?

All I knew in 1995 was what I’d been told, that Phil Kirkland said it to a newspaper reporter who was writing a story about hashing. I decided to do a little digging. I still don’t know much, but here’s what I have so far:

The newspaper story, published by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, October 16, 1977, was titled “Harriers Out for Run and a Good Thirst.” The dateline wasn’t LA but Hong Kong, and it was about running with the Hong Kong H3. I couldn’t access the full story, but I was able to scan these two paragraphs, the second one containing the quotation:

The harriers welcome all races and nationalities, but find that Europeans and Australians far outnumber the Asians in their ranks. “The Chinese are just too serious-minded for us,” a Hong Kong member said. Women runners, no matter how able, are shunted off to a women’s auxiliary, the Hash House Harriets. The ostensible reason for the segregation is that women can’t run as far or as fast, but there may be some misogyny involved. “The club constitution clearly states that dogs, women and other pets are not permitted on runs,” an Australian growled. The women, for their part, bridle at the suggestion that they’re not as good. “Every time the men and women have a joint run, some of us finish far ahead of the men,” Cynthia Chin, a Hong Kong Harriet, said.

Most Hong Kong Hashers are so devoted to the club that they run rain or shine, even when typhoon warnings are hoisted and sensible citizens are quaking indoors. What brings them out every Monday, they say, is the camaraderie plus the chance to escape the pressures of business. “I look forward to this all week,” Phil Kirkland, an Australian executive, said. “This is the only place in Hong Kong where people don’t talk business.” Others suggest that if you want a reason for the popularity of hashing, you need look no further than the club’s motto: “If you’ve half a mind to join the hash, that’s all you need.”

I recall reading somewhere that Phil Kirkland doesn’t remember saying “If you’ve half a mind to join the hash, that’s all you need,” and now I know why—he didn’t. According to the Los Angeles Times story, it was the motto of the Hong Kong H3, and I don’t know who originally said it. If anyone does, please contact me and I’ll update this post.

Whether Phil Kirkland said it or not, hashers who know the quote have always been told he did, and after digging up the original newspaper story, I got curious about the man himself. Here are a few things I learned, along with a couple of things I’m not sure about (perhaps his friends can help fill in the blanks):

Phil’s full hash handle is Thrill Furkhand, Furkhand for short. He’s an Aussie, and though I can’t find a citation, I believe his mother hash is Sydney H3. We know from the newspaper article that he ran with Hong Kong H3 in 1977. I found a reference to him running with Beijing H3 in 1979 (and another reference listing him as a co-founder of Beijing H3). He was active with Sydney H3 in 2009.

I use the present tense when referring to Phil, but think he’s been hashing with G since 2010. I can’t find a definitive citation, but the Sydney Herald has a memorial page for a Philip Kirkland who died in 2010, and a Thrill Furkhand Trust was set up in Sydney in 2017.

I found one other reference: Phil Kirkland’s son was hashing with Sydney H3 in 2011.

So far I have not been able to find a photo of Phil Kirkland. And yes, you know I checked: he’s not on Facebook.

© 2017, Flying Booger. All rights reserved.


About Flying Booger  Hash House Harrier, man about town.


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2 comments to Half a Mind

  • Elephant Dick!

    Rumson’s having trouble recruiting new boots to our old men’s hash, and many of our long-term hashers would not meet the half-a-mind requirement (which we feel is overly rigorous), so we have at least temporarily suspended it. We only require that one has a pair of balls, or proof of once having them – Dick!

  • We have to change with the times, Elephant Dick!

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