Hashmags are traditionally humorous and irreverent affairs and so a sad note remembering one of the great personalities of our hash who died four years ago may seem a little out of our usual style. However , this particular hasher was so full of humour and irreverence himself that I am sure it will be alright. And so – here is a brief tribute to the memory of that lovely man Keith Mitchell otherwise known, rather presciently, as The Late Keith.
Late Keith (by Navy Mike)
If we are lucky, at some time in our lives we will know someone of such warmth and humour and personality that they enhance and brighten our lives. To me, and to our hash, The Late Keith was just such a someone and we still talk about and remember him with enormous affection. He joined the Kennet Valley Hash when it was young and with his enthusiasm, intelligence and kindness he played a major part in creating the atmosphere of relaxed companionship and fun with which we continue to be blessed. Thanks to Maurice and Jeremy we can read and re-read those legendary hash mags of his and still laugh at the deprecating understated humour in what are little masterpieces of the genre. A hash without Keith’s tall rangy figure plodding doggedly along at the back and without his witty conversation over a pint at the après wasn’t and never now will be the same. It was four years ago this month that he died and, like many others, I still grieve for and miss him.
The Late Keith (by Brian the Bold)
My first recollection of meeting Keith was back in June 2003 at The Red Lion at Lacock. I recall it particularly because he had a go at me. In fact, he had a go at me in quite a loud voice, at the pre-hash before we’d even been introduced. Now I may be old fashioned, but I prefer an introduction before someone starts throwing insults my way. So my first impression was “Who the heck is this and why does everyone else seem so pleased to see him?” Of course I found out very quickly that his sometimes apparent combative nature was merely a challenge to engage in conversation. And what an erudite, witty and cultured conversationalist he was. He was a polymath with a generous heart, whom it was a joy to know.
It was often the case that he and I would be running at the back and our discussions were various but always interesting. He was 11 days older than me, and I admired him greatly. It was he who gave me the hash name Brian the Bold (after a nonsense poem by A. A. Milne). He was a charismatic, fascinating man who wrote wonderful hash mags (which I encourage you to read on the this website) and I miss his presence (and Katrina’s) on hash days even now.
Keith (by Kathy Thomas)
Keith, were you ever this good?
Those who knew you better would have told you so,
Me, I only knew you from a hundred hashes blessed.
You simply made us have to do our best.
Our best, however bad, you still found pleasing,
You hid some real gems beneath your teasing.
But – more – you showed us beauty…
And our gratitude shan’t die.
Dear Keith, we’ve lost so much
In such a wretched goodbye.
Thank you Keith (by The Lady Margaret)
Writing is not my forte but because of Keith’s wit and humour I always looked forward to reading his Mags. So when I became the G.O.M. I asked Keith to be the resident Mag writer hence the many, many hash mags written by our Late Keith which we can all still enjoy to this day. Thank you Keith.
The Late Keith (by Jeremy)
Keith was invariably the last to arrive at a hash. Sometimes he had an obvious good reason, such as hash 164 where he had just got off of a transatlantic flight, but for the majority of times it was just his character, relaxed with the world and with his ability to get things done without being hurried. This occasionally led him to run the course on his own, but even then he would do all of it. He had no truck with people taking short-cuts, least of all himself.
Keith was no fan of TV, and much to the disbelief of TV Licensing didn’t have one; their continuing disbelief eventually forcing him to threaten to sue for harassment if they didn’t cease.
He was a keen cricketer, organising trips abroad for his team, as well as a keen sailor. Mike and I were lucky to spend a week on a yacht in Croatia with him and Katrina, where his relaxed, unflustered approach was again evident. Late one evening we were prevented from mooring at our intended destination and had to continue for another couple of hours into the night before finding safety. Another night was spent at anchor in a quiet inlet on the island of Brac, where Keith regaled us with an unending repartee of songs and jokes.
Keith spent an early part of his working life in North Africa where he became fluent in French and would, henceforth, with the least opportunity break into a full blooded version of La Marseillaise – there being of course no other way to sing it.
It was his intent to retire to France with Katrina and live near Albi.