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Fourteen Questions: Shakesprick

shakesprick w:Ankara harriettes

Shakesprick with Ankara Harriettes

I know, I know, I interview too many Scandinavians, but this one’s different. For one thing, he only considers himself a Swede . . . he’s actually English. For another thing, he’s in Turkey. And for another thing, he’s been an ex-pat most of his life and might be living and hashing somewhere else by the time you read this. So there.

Bob “Shakesprick” Pateman hash been hashing for 25 years. He and his wife Nathalie “Nippy Knickers” Tranefeldt live and hash in Ankara, Turkey. Let’s hear what he has to say:

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Shakesprick, what hash tradition do you come from?

I have no strong preference but would certainly fight against any men-only policy if there was no alternative hash available for Harriettes. In Jakarta the women had their night, the men theirs and there were some mixed events and generally, beyond the banter, it was all based on mutual respect. Otherwise I think matters such as live or dead hare, A to A or B to B and so on, really depends on each individual occasion and variation is usually a positive thing.

When & where was your first hash? How did you find out about the hash?

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1981. I was a young teacher who had gone overseas for ‘a couple of years’ before going back to work my way up the British education system. The school made up half the Dar pack in those days and so, having been in Africa about a week, I was walking into the staff block of flats on a Monday afternoon when a dozen teachers came down the stairs in running kit. I like to claim that I turned around and joined them, in fact my dinner was on the table and I made my hash début at the next run, two weeks later. I am quite a good runner – I was Sussex Junior Cross Country champion many years ago – and was also into amateur drama, so when I realized the hash was a run followed by a circle – well, it was a dream come true!

How did you get your hash name?

In Dar in the 1980s – and this is an interesting reflection on hash history – hash names were given by the scribe, a fine hasher called Geoff Williams. There was no discussion or contribution from the circle, but after two or three runs you would find yourself being given a name in the Hash Trash. Some of these caught on; Deidre for example is probably still known as ‘Frogs’ wherever she is 25 years later. Geoff came up with Bonipat or something similar for me and it just flopped. So I went on to Hash in Cairo and then Beijing, and arrived in Jakarta eight years later still without a hash name. A great friend, Mallie Harding, named me on the TGIF Hash and came up with Shakesprick. It is a corruption of Shakespeare and relates to my love of writing.

Who taught you the most about hashing?

Charlie Woolman was my great mentor. He introduced me to hashing in Dar and I was his co-hare the first time I ever laid a trail. He was a wonderful inspirational figure – both in hashing and in life. I hashed with him throughout my first spell in Dar and we did a hash together when I visited him in Vienna a few years later, but by then he was bringing up a family and I think that was the last time he has hashed. I blame myself for this terrible loss to hashing, as I was the one who found him a date for the 1982 Dar Marine Ball, and this turned out to be his future wife Cecil!

Goliath as GM of Batavia was an inspirational example of quiet command over a circle. Shamcocks was another great inspiration – just a perfect gentleman, as is The Penguin. Both of them always have time for everybody. I never met Magic, but admire him through his writing and reputation.

Where have you hashed?

That first year in Dar I was a very occasional hasher, running if there was nothing else happening. The second and third years we had quite a competition to see who would get to 50 runs first and I seldom missed a run, and then only under protest. I then went to Cairo and Beijing and hashed in both places from the first week I arrived. By 1999 my first wife, Anne, and I were in Jakarta and our hashing stepped up another notch. For the first time we were both hashing and would regularly do three runs a week. We arrived at the end of the economic boom and between us we could collect half a dozen new hash T-shirts every week! I then had two years in Mexico in a little village, but was now a single man and made the occasional 600k round trip to run and party with Mexico City H3. Then it was back to a second spell in Dar – where I meet Nippy on a hash run. The move to Sweden was different as it was leaving the ex-pat life to go to Nathalie’s home city and settle down but we were regular hashers with both the Stockholm kennels. A two-year spell in Kuwait followed – I was there on my own, so hashing was perfect, cheap entrainment with good friends and I clocked up over 100 runs with the various hashes in just two years. Now it is Ankara where I have walked into the vacant Joint Master position. I am still trying to work out my hash total but it must be very close to the magic thousand mark by now. As for visits I think I am in the top five of the ‘Where Have You Hashed’ chart. My favourite event has to be the Helsinki Hole in the Ice Run and Nippy and I did three of these between 2001 and 2003. Great, great weekends, although they seem to have faded out now with a less actual Helsinki committee.

Are there places you haven’t hashed but would like to?

I can’t believe I’ve never run with Mother Hash on any of my visits to KL. I must go back and do that. The Dalmatian Hash Cruise and the Rome Ides of March are high on my list. I would also like to visit all the great historical hashes, Washington, Perth and so on.

What’s the best thing that ever happened to you at a hash?

Apart from meeting Nippy on the Dar es Salaam hash you mean?

Over the years there have been some great, great times, far too many to mention. But here are a few:

Drinking in the Squeeze Bar with the Trinidad crowd.

The Batavia circles. I remember a hasher, I believe it was Quckie, drinking so much that he fell flat on his face in the circle in middle of a sentence. The GM didn’t hesitate, he just said:

‘Shakesprick, were you listening to brother Quicker?’

‘Yes GM sir!’

‘Well then, please continue his charge for him.’

‘Right……err, what brother Quickie was about to say before he was overcome by the heat was that in his opinion . . . ’

Brilliant circles.

Then there was the Hole in the Ice cabaret, when I played David Attenborough and ‘Swiss Bubbles’ acted as the nethanderalHasher that I was studying. In fact I started these notes this morning and then went out to set Sunday’s Ankara hash. We went to a new area and saw 18 wild tortoises. What a great morning!

What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you at a hash?

Nothing really. I was on Dar Run 26 where the pack got arrested, but came home early and escaped! That is something I regret, as the police allowed them to take their beer into the cells and they had a great party. I don’t have a good head for heights and embarrassed myself by freezing on a couple of bamboo bridges in Jakarta. One of my InterHash cabarets bummed out – but nothing you can’t wash away with a couple of beers.

What is the most dangerous trail you’ve done?

There was one bridge in Jakarta that I just couldn’t get across. Not once in four years! It was an old rail bridge with just the girders left. I once saw a whole line of women shuffling across, hand in hand, being guided by a frightened looking hash cock. It looked comical, but it was along way down and could have got people seriously hurt. I was also in a front running pack that came very close to being struck by lightening on a Jakarta weekend run.

What do you most love about hashing?

The brotherhood. Just being a hasher. It means you can arrive in a new posting and be part of the community instantly. Two kennels, Port of Spain and Beirut, stand out for having been particularly welcoming when we have been on holiday there.

How has hashing affected your personal or professional life (good or bad)?

Once it was kind of frowned on. I don’t think that is the case anymore. I actually mentioned I was a hasher on one job application and the headmaster wrote back, ‘Hashers are the lowest of the low and the dregs of humanity’ and then signed it ‘Onon Old Peculiar’ and I got the job.

Are there certain fundamentals you believe all hashers should embrace?

To me the golden rule is that everybody is welcome. The hash is one place where everybody is truly equal . . . although of course a beautiful single Harriette is more equal than some fat old bastard! There have been a number of times when I thought I really didn’t like somebody on a hash but because it’s the hash I have made the effort to be friendly and then you find out something remarkable about them. That the guy always moaning in the circle has the VC, or the drunk old sod embarrassing himself in the bar is bringing up three Ethiopian orphans. I think nearly everybody on this planet – except the odd serial killer and of course George Bush – has something good about them; it’s just that in normal life it never gets noticed.

What do you think you’ve contributed to hashing?

I’ve set my share of trails, I have made people laugh in the circle, I have always made a point of welcoming newcomers . . . I think that counts for something.

What’s in your hashing future?

Well, I don’t think I am a hash fanatic in that I do have other interests. Writing is still very important to me. As I enter semi retirement I have gone back to my studies. I have just got a master in medieval history and I plan to go on to the next stage. Nippy and I share a love of the theatre and cinema and would even miss a hash if we had tickets for something good!

However, at the same time I can’t imagine not hashing and I have always said that one day, when I am about 102, I would like to go out on a trail and never be seen again! I would also like to contribute more and I have been working on an online Encyclopaedia of Hashing. It started as a simple exercise to teach myself how to write websites and five years later it is up to about 100,000 words! It is more or less finished and I do plan to get it on line this summer before I go back to full employment.

Editor’s note: Shakesprick promises to let me know when his Encyclopedia is on-line, and I’ll pass the word on – Flying Booger

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