Cub Club (Part 2)

In Part 1, Mr Moustache (who had been something low ranking in the British army) met my father (who had been a corporal in the British army and never fired a gun).

Together they decided the 10 year old Kapitano would love to join the scouts, and discover things like:

  • Communing with nature

  • Learning survival skills in the wild

  • Helping old ladies across the road

  • Doing household chores for strangers in return for pitiful amounts of cash

  • Donating the pitiful cash to never-specified charities

  • Helping old ladies across the road

  • Something about god

  • Promising to serve the queen our entire lives

  • Keeping clean

  • Never telling lies (except when it would hurt someone's feelings or embarrass an adult)

  • Helping old ladies across the...yes, that one came up quite a lot

  • Oh, and:

  • Learning how to tie sailors in knots. I might have misremembered that one.

  • In fact, the budget stretched to one occasion of:

  • Cooking baked beans and sausages by gas in the wild, untamed empty building site next to the scout hall. Except it rained, so we did it in the hall itself.

  • I stopped going pretty quickly.

    But happened again. Once again Father and me bumped into Mr Moustache outside the hall, and once again decided I wanted to join. But this time it would be better, because instead of eight bored boys, there were eighteen.

    I have a few memories of this time. The third is of a plump, red-bearded, red-faced scoutmaster with an abiding passion: Amateur Dramatics.

    Every week or so, he spent an hour bullying the boys into learning everything he knew about one or another aspect of stagecraft.

    Mr Amdram: Can you guess what we're going to learn about today?
    Boys: Is it...Shakespeare?
    Mr Amdram: Um, no.
    Boys: Putting on makeup?
    (Other Boys: Yeah! Cool!)
    Mr Amdram: No.
    Boys: Swordfighing?
    (Other Boys: Swordfighing!)
    Mr Amdram: No.
    Boys: What then?
    Mr Amdram: Guess.
    Boys (after a long pause): Uh, no idea.
    Mr Amdram: DANCING!
    Boys: Oh god no! Dancing's for girls!
    Mr Amdram: We Are Going To Learn Dancing!
    Boys: Ugh! Eurgh! No!
    (Continue arguing until there's no time to learn about dancing.)

    My second memory is of the lady who poured the half-time soft drinks. And did pretty much everything else.

    Someone had noticed that Kapitano avoided playing the games which the adults devised to fill up the empty dismal hours of each meeting.

    One of these was a convoluted game of pure chance, which Kapitano was the last to play...and won. And got a round of applause for doing so.

    I had spent most of my early life being puzzled about what people did and said, so this was just one more way they made no sense. Why were the boys being prodded into congratulating me on being lucky? I shrugged and went back to my seat, alone.

    I think the adults noticed the shrug.

    They'd also noticed that Kapitano didn't have any badges sewn onto his uniform. Badgelessness and not-being-a-team-player. Two aspects of the same problem perhaps?

    So the lady spent 20 minutes listening to me talk about variables, graphics, conditional branches, and how to program a Sinclair ZX-81 personal home computer. With 16 kilobyte RAM extension.

    I don't think she listened, but she presented me with a "Hobbies" badge. I got Mother to teach me how to sew, so I could attach it to my uniform.

    And that's the story of how I learned to sew.

    But the first memory...that's the formative one. And that's in Part 3.

    1 comment:

    1. Finally, I was starting to wonder what kind of Scout troop doesn't help old ladies across the street & do something camping related? My brothers & neighborhood friends loved their Scouting experience. I enjoyed the solitude of being on my own & sleeping in on weekends while the Scouts had to get up early for clean up projects.