Saturday, 28 April 2012

It's alright - we're Scouts

Occasionally, just very occasionally,  a long-lost memory comes unbidden to the forefront of my mind.  I have not as yet determined what it might be that triggers this involuntary recall: it may perhaps be something that somebody says or does, or maybe it's just another of those things that come along as the good old anno domini pass on their merry way.  One such memory came to me a few days ago and has been stuck in my mind ever since.  It is my sincere hope that by writing about it here and telling the whole wide world, I might exorcise the beast.  Of course, I fully realise that I might not, but it seems to me that I have nothing much to lose - especially as this memory what I am about to relate does me no real discredit.

At the age of 11 I joined the Scout troop attached to my new school.  From time to time, during our Friday evening meetings, our scoutmaster would send us all out on a wide game.  (For the uninitiated, a wide game is simply a game played over a wide - or widish - area as opposed to one played on, for example, a football pitch.)  These games usually involved one party trying to attack the scout hut which was being defended by the other party.  The scout hut stood in the school grounds which extended over quite a large area - enough space for three rugby pitches, a hockey pitch and a cricket square with space to spare.  One side of the grounds, the side at the back of the playing fields, was open to a road except for a fence of iron railings.  At one corner was a gate with a catch which could be used as a foothold to climb over.

I can't remember if, on this particular occasion, I was defending or attacking.  Either way, I was by the gate - as was Roderick Dolling, who was one of the opposing force.  One of us wanted to climb the gate while the other was determined to prevent the incursion.  We ended up rolling around on the ground, yelping and snarling like a couple of puppies.  It meant nothing, of course.  As Shakespeare might have said, "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".  As we were rolling around a little old lady happened to come along.  These days, of course, no self-respecting little old lady would be out at dusk (it was that time of the evening) and if she were and came across two teenagers rolling on the ground, she would quickly cross the road and avert her eyes, being afraid that she might be mugged.  England was a different world half a century ago.

Anyway, the little old lady stopped and exclaimed, "What do you two think you are doing?", whereupon both Roderick and I jumped to our feet, snapped to attention and gave the Scout salute.  "It's alright, madam," one of us said.  "We're Scouts."

"That's all right, then," said the little old lady and she went on her way.  Roderick and I went back onto the pavement to continue where we had left off.

And so to today's picture.  This is Home Farmhouse, Stanmer.  It stands just across the road from the well house pictured yesterday.


Uncle Skip, said...

I like what you've done with the place.

Buck said...

That's a great story. I wish my unbidden memories were like this one.

England most certainly WAS a different place 50 years ago... I have memories of London as a child, when my father was stationed in downtown London and I went to school at Bushy Park. That was in 1953.

Stephen Hayes said...

Such civility, for which the British have always been highly esteemed. We need more of this.