Cub Club (Part 3)

In Part 1, I joined the cub scouts and learned nothing. In Part 2, I joined again and learned to use a needle and thread. I learned one other thing.

This second time, the nominal leader Mr Moustache (who possibly had a real name which I might even have known) was barely seen. He'd effectively demoted himself to shuffling papers in a small anteroom, while a shifting team of ex-soldiers took care of the boys.

The only time I saw him for more than a minute was while carrying one end of a banner, while he walked in front dressed as Father Christmas, and behind us was a junior marching band and a team of majorettes. This last was two dozen pubescent girls dressed in flesh-coloured lyotards - glaring with hostility at the two boys.

We walked/twirled/blew/beat around the streets for 90 minutes. What were we doing? What was on the banner? I have absolutely no idea.

But the first evening of rejoining. Eighteen boys of around 10, arranged on three sides of a square, while in the middle... ...a tall man with a short crew-cut.

Wearing full camouflage.

Screaming and bellowing about how we lacked "discipline".

Apparently we were a "disgrace", with our little green caps, woggles with neck-kerchiefs, regulation pullovers and grey school shorts.

I almost never questioned or resisted adult imbecility - there was never any point. But on this occasion, for some reason, I decided to try an experiment.

I sneered at him.

I kept the sneer until his gaze reached me...

...and he flinched.

Just momentarily, because he immediately looked far away, and never looked at me again.

I think I attended for two more weeks, and have no recollection of anything about them. Sometimes there's nothing more to habit than momentum.

I never told anyone about this, but the one thing you realise when you reach middle that whatever you think you worked out as an already knew as a child.


  1. Do you still march around with a banner for Xmas, for old times sake? Your majorettes sound tough. Ar least you learned how to use a needle & a thread & the joys of indoors camping when it rains.

    You know, I've always been baffled by the pictures of English kids whose school uniform consisted of shorts. I mean, I can understand shorts in a hot climate, like Africa or the Tropics, but isn't England generally cold & wet? It seemed kind of mean to make kids wear shorts when it's cold & wet & windy & foggy.

    1. Though we do like to complain about rain, cold and fog, we actually get very little of them. And not much sun either.

      All those American movies showing London cloaked in permanent fog? Complete myth. Though the Welsh make jokes about constant rain in Wales.

      But yes, shorts seemed silly and children were cold a lot. It's only in the last few years I've been comfortable wearing them - and only in the highly irregular and unpredictable hot days.

      Judging from the media, Americans are happy to wear shorts and t-shirts all the time...except when working in offices.

      Canadians, of course, are well known for tolerating extremely low temperatures. Or rather, Americans are known for making jokes about it. In England, we have the same stereotype about the Scottish.

    2. I'm wearing shorts & a T-shirt now! And probably most of America because it's frakking hot!!! The only places where people might wear pants are near the Arctic Circle, large bodies of water, or swamps, because it's mosquito season.