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Dib, dib, dib

November 4, 2009

9th Aug 2007

cubmaster200The Scout Movement celebrated their centenary this year with a Giant Jamboree (just finished) in the South of England. Speaking as an ex-member of the rival ‘Boys Brigade’ organization (left under a cloud following an incident involving two Irish lassies, a bottle of whiskey, a clearing in the woods – during a summer camp in Bangor, N.Ireland in the mid-60’s), the idea of teenage lads and grown men wearing short trousers, going off ‘camping’ together to play with their wiggles (or was it woggles?) always seemed just a teeny wee bit ’suspicious’!

The Scouts and the Boys Brigade are both excellent organizations which have benefited millions of children and young people around the world and the leadership of both organizations contains many dedicated men and woman who gift their time to enrich the lives of children. In the 1950/60’s, however, the leadership was primarily male. From the Boy Scout and Boys Brigade leaders I encountered then, a large percentage seemed to be single men in their 40’s, living alone with their mothers, with no social life, who did not seem able to form adult relations, but were comfortable and took pleasure in the company of children. Signs that in a less naive age, such as today, would quite rightly raise some eyebrows (?)

What’s that? You want to know more about the two girls in the woods and the bottle of whiskey ?

Truth is – other than a bit of snogging and drinking the whiskey, nothing else happened. Trouble was, no-one would believe me.

There was a path through the woods which was a shortcut from our campsite to town. An unknown person taking that shortcut spied me and the girls and grassed me up to the Captain. I was hauled up before him and given a severe talking to. There was much along the lines of ‘ being disappointed in me’ and of ‘my duty to set an example to the younger members of the company’. After a great deal more about the importance of Christian values etc I was forbidden to see the girls again. I told him to ‘go f*ck himself’ No-one was going to dictate to me who I could and could not be friends with. As a result, I was ‘demoted’ and removed from my position as ‘tent leader’. My second in command was offered my position. He refused. A boy in one of the other tents (possibly the one who had clyped on me) was promoted and transferred into my tent to take command. That night, while I was visiting the latrines, someone (never identified) smacked him with a cricket bat and broke his leg.

PEELING POTATOESI was hauled before the Captain again and questioned. Although I was innocent in this matter, in the absence of any confession of guilt by anyone else (the lad with the broken leg had the good sense to maintain he had tripped and fallen awkwardly) the Captain assigned me to peel tatties for 3 days. This was intended to be a punishment. However the cook was an ex-navy man who had been recruited locally and kept me entertained with saucy tales of his adventures. He also introduced me to guinness (he always had some cans to hand when preparing the food!). Even better, a stone dyke surrounded our camp site and the cook and I sat with our backs to it peeling spuds. The two girls would sit on the other side of the wall (invisible to the Captain) and we would have a good ‘craic’, with cans of Guinness being passed over the wall. The cook, not one to miss an opportunity, started passing tatties over the wall. This greatly sped up the peeling process! The scam came to an end on the 2nd Day when the Captain came over to check progress. After a couple of cans of Guinness, the girls were giggly and gave the game away. When the Captain peered over the dyke I was summoned to his tent for another dressing down.

I’ll spare you the lecture. The outcome was he had decided enough was enough and I was to be sent home in disgrace. I told him to ‘go f*ck himself’. I wasn’t going. My folks had paid for me to spend two weeks in Ireland and that was what I was going to do. We had reached a impasse. He wanted me to leave. I wouldn’t go. He blinked first. My tent would be ‘punished’. During the two weeks camping there was an ongoing competition between the various tents. There was a daily tent, kit, and table ‘inspection’ for which points were awarded. There were also daily sporting competitions between the various tents. As a result of my unacceptable behaviour/attitude to authority my tent was penalised by having points deducted from the tally we had accumulated to date. All this did was to motivate my tent to greater efforts. New tactics were devised!

dog poo200Each morning, one tent was assigned to clean the latrines – and would receive points for how well they had done so. As it happened, the morning after the Captain had ‘punished’ my tent it was some other tent’s responsibility to clean the latrines. Minutes after they had finished, and returned to their tent, some ‘dirty bugger’ slipped in and left a turd in the middle of the floor. ‘Nil points’ for that tent!

Strangely, the younger members of the Duncanr tent were the most enthusiastic about the new tactics and the most proficient at employing them: The fag end dropped outside a rival tent seconds before the Captain appeared on his Inspection: The condom slipped under the blanket of a rival tent member: The fairy liquid squirted over the cutlery: the handful of grass slipped under the upturned cup of a rival tent member.

Before long, Duncanr’s tent had recovered lost ground.and overhauled the other tents in the points tally. To add to the Captain’s discomfort, each day thereafter the girls brought some of their friends along and would sit on the stone dyke surrounding our campsite watching while we engaged in our daily exercises/sports competitions and making ribald comments when the Captain appeared wearing his shorts!

At the end of the two weeks, it was universally acclaimed (by all those in Duncanr’s tent) to have been the most enjoyable camp ever! (The Captain may have had a contrary opinion.)

angelWhen we returned to Scotland, the Captain and I agreed to a parting of the ways. (I told my parents I was giving up the Boys Brigade to spend more time studying for my exams!)

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 5, 2009 9:56 am

    As a fellow ex-BB, time served IHTA, your camps were a sod sight funnier than ours!

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