Ask Dr. Down-Down: Jan 2005

Dear Doctor Down-Down,

I first joined hash in Townsville, Queensland, Australia in 1981 and have been hashing all over the world at hash runs (Interhash, Aussie Nash Hash and special runs) as well as pre- and post-hash holidays in great exotic places. I cannot find any history on where or when the hash naming practice started. I appreciate that the original founders had hash names or handles but when I first joined, I found a few clubs particularly overseas that did not adopt this policy. All the clubs I found in Australia where I live all seem to use hash names. Was it a practice adopted by the original founders of hash in KL?

On On,

Dear Dumprat,

Stu “The Colonel” Lloyd talks about the history of hash names in his excellent hashing book, Hare of the Dog. According to The Colonel, the original Kuala Lumpur hashers didn’t use hash names. Yes, they had nicknames, like Torch and Horse, but those were schoolboy nicknames that followed them into adulthood – they were Torch and Horse long before they took up hashing.

Hashers have always had nicknames. The precise point at which hashers with nicknames became hashers with hash names is hard to pin down. During the 1960s, in Singapore and Indonesia, hashers began to bestow “attributives” on one another, names like Duck Squiffle and Drunken Duncan. Personally, I’d call these hash names – differentiating between attributive nicknames and hash names seems like quibbling to me, because most hash names I can think of today are in fact attributives – nicknames based on physical characteristics or notable screw-ups.

Nevertheless, hidebound old-time hashers insist that hash names as we know them today did not come into use until the 1970s, and most likely originated with the Jakarta HHH. Interestingly enough, The Colonel says hash names were originally used to protect the guilty – to be able to describe hash shenanigans in newsletters and hash trashes without actually naming the perpetrators and getting them in trouble at work or at home. I like that – true or not, it’s totally in keeping with the hash!

Hash names are widely used now, of course, but mainly in hash kennels that trace their lineage back to Singapore and Indonesia. To this day members of the Mother Hash – and members of hashes directly descended from Mother – scorn the use of hash names.

In researching your question, Dumprat, I wrote to Bill Panton, a true hash historian, the moving force behind the Hash Heritage Foundation. Here is part of his letter back to me:

“As a member of the Hash House Harriers Kuala Lumpur, off and on since the mid-fifties, I can confirm that the KLH3 does not bestow hash names. My Tumbling Bill moniker was awarded not by the Mother Hash, but by the Royal Selangor Club H3, of which I am also a member. Accordingly, I am very careful to avoid using it at KLH3 meets, where I am sure I would be awarded an immediate down-down should I so transgress . . . I agree with your remarks, except to note that of my two hash creations one, the DCH3, keeps to the no naming tradition, while the other, Bangkok H3, has embraced the notion of hash handles. As you so rightly say, there are no rules in Hash.”

By the way, Dumprat . . . how did you get your hash name?

On On,
Doctor Down-Down

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