Farewell to P.O.L.E.


Archived Letters





From October 1983 to June 1984 Neil was in Lhokseumawe, Aceh working on assignment at PT Arun, a plant that liquefied natural gas pumped to it in a pipeline from Mobil Indonesia who extracted it from a gas field about 20km away. 

The Hash House Harriers [HHH] are a mad group of people that run through the jungle for fun(!).  It's a common expat form of stress relief in many tropical countries.  [We owe so much to the Brits, don't we?]  The idea was to follow a trail set in the jungle in advance by the "hares", who would lay false trails every now and again; the falsies were designed to keep the group of runners relatively close together, so the fast runners wouldn't necessarily finish the course fastest.  The incentive to finish the run -- in addition to ending an exhausting run in the tropical heat -- was the famed grog truck. 

Two scribes were appointed to record the events for every run.  Neil was selected to be a scribe on the farewell run for a group called P.O.L.E. (whatever that stood for).  Celebration events were often accompanied by a Hash t-shirt and on this day P.O.L.E. sponsored a t-shirt with the Hash Name of each of their members arranged on a Scrabble board.  A Hash Name was given to every HHH member after they completed five runs.  The Hash Name was always a play on the person's characteristics, whether it be their age, shape, real name, occupation, reputation ... whatever.  Hash Names were recorded by the Scribe in 'CAPITALS' [including the single quote mark] so there could be no confusion between a Hash Name and a regular word. 

The GM was the person who made the announcements at the beginning of the run and supervised the "awards ceremony" afterwards.  The awards ceremony consisted of various runners having a bucket full of freezing cold, iced water from the grog truck poured over them to celebrate some event, e.g., your first run, your 10th run, your 50th run, your birthday, the fact you wore yellow that day -- whatever seemed like a good excuse at the time to pick on someone.  [As I said, we have so much we owe to the Brits.]  You'll see my name at the end of the article.  I was told it was a play on my name -- "Gamble" -- but who knows what it really meant?

Gee, I've written more introduction that the real article.  Remember, this is a report of that Hash run that manages to include every Hash Name on the scrabble board t-shirt.

HHH Article: Farewell to P.O.L.E.

This insignificant contribution to our great English language is best read while wearing your newest Hash t-shirt (or looking at someone else's).

Well, I thought!  What a 'PLEASANT' day for a Hash.  Even better because I ordered a 'JELLYBEAN' at the Snack Bar before I left.  Mind you, a 'TUTI FRUITI' would have been just as good.  I climbed into the faithful blue 'TANK' and it was ON! ON!  (Or OFF OFF into the unknown.)

On the ride I had a thought.  It seemed unfair to have this Easter Hash in April and not in 'MAE'.  I also noticed how 'BARON' the land was.  ('scuse spelling.)

Wouldn't it be just awful if on one of these long bus rides we had an accident?  I could end up with a 'SOFTBALL' or two; my 'PHEASANT PLUCKER' could only operate 'FORTNIGHTLY' perhaps be 'GONE' forever.  Better 'TELEX' for help.  But really I'm a fatalist.  I think I'll always be staying alive just like 'TRAVOLTA'.  Or I'll have 007 lives just like 'BOND'.

However, the only accident we had was the GM, a new bloke!!  Is this is 'TRICK' or just a regular 'CYCLIST'.  And what was this guy doing anyway, handing out 'OSTRICH' eggs?  He said we had to carry them for the whole Hash boy, was I 'CROSS'.

But I will admit, when we finally started the run, we didn't come to any 'HIGHLANDS' or Lowlands, just a flat track all the way.  I did at one stage see a burial ground and wondered if they had a 'REDGRAVE' in there.  But I asked a local and he said " 'YANG TERAKHIR', tidak ada tanah merah."  So that answered that!

I ran with 'ROBBIE' most of the way.  When I finished they accused me of being a 'BRUCE' and muttered something about an Australian University in Alice Springs.  Just as well my Python called Monty didn't hear them.  He would have turned on them so fast they'd do a 'WHEELIE MULDOON' to get out of there and head for New Zealand.

Now, unscrabble that you lot!!!


Helpful Points

  • If you didn't guess, 'PLEASANT' and 'PHEASANT PLUCKER' were two of the more attractive wives in the camp who regularly joined the Hash run. 

  • ON! ON! was the rally cry to start the race and called out every time the trail was established.

  • They really did hand out boiled Easter Eggs at the start of the race that we had to carry until the end. 

  • "Yang Terakhir" means the person who is last, like last in a line or race; "tidak ada tanah merah" means "don't have red soil" or "the earth / soil is not red". 

  • And Robert Muldoon was the Prime Minister of New Zealand sometime around the 1980s.