Friday, 8 June 2012

Getting in a knot

I never got to be a Brownie or a Guide. Instead, I was sent to be a member of the Girls’ Brigade.

We didn’t do badges – well, not the sort that those Anglican Brownies and Guides did. You know – the ones where you had to learn something and then face a challenge and earn your badge.

To be honest, I can’t remember much of what we did do – except a vague sense of it involving religious stuff.

Indeed, as I was thinking about this, I Googled the organisation in question and, on its website, found the following:

“GB [Girls’ Brigade] adds value

Six specific values are at the heart of GB.

These are:

Discovering Jesus!
Living it!

Cripes. I didn’t realise that “Yes!” was a value. Mind, I’d be hard pressed to explain “sound” or “living it” as “values” either. Or “fun”. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with fun – but a “value”?

Actually, you find a lot more elsewhere on the website.

“In the Bible’s Old Testament, the story of Esther highlights how God can use individuals to make a significant difference in the life and faith of a nation.

“In this generation there are many opportunities for women to take a stand in relation to their Christian faith and GB is committed to empowering them to respond to God’s call and use their gifts and skills to transform communities.

“Arise Ministries, the children’s work partnership with Viz-A-Viz Ministries, is one exciting initiative in which young women have been encouraged to live out their faith by sharing their time, skills and beliefs with children.”

You may get the gist.

Interestingly, looking at the website for the Guides, there is far less of an emphasis on religious matters. It's ecumenical, for starters.

But for my parents, it seems that any youthful social activities had to be centred around religion. It had been something called Sunshine Corner, when I was younger – a 'club' that took place on Monday evenings and was, in my experience, run by my father, for children.

The main part of it was religion. Okay, it involved games and things, but they were all to do with religion.

That's one of the few concrete memories I have of our three years in Bolton.

Similarly, Girls' Brigade is a memory that's specific to the following three years in London. With both, I have a sense of the church halls in which they took place. I think my father did something similar, for slightly older children, in Mossley too, now I start to think about it.

What is certain is that we didn’t do was learn anything practical. I can still only tie the most rudimentary of knots, for instance – and tomorrow, knots will be needed in abundance.

For tomorrow is the day when I will have to make wigwams for the peas and beans. Because a load of them are actually growing!

Perhaps my fingers are green after all.

A colleague and long-time friend says that I have ‘caught the bug’

I’ve caught plenty of snails, certainly, but there are more out there.

Ren in the US suggested introducing a hedgehog to the garden to munch the little blighters.

In the olden days, before we had the place fully paved and tidied up, we actually had one living in some of the general debris for a while.

Mack, my first cat, combined feline wariness and curiosity as he investigated it, although I don’t think either he or the hedgehog were impressed.

And he was even less impressed when I didn’t Do Something about it.

This was, to be fair, as I was only just learning to understand that, when cats look at you in a certain way, they are actually telling you to ‘Do Something’ about whatever it is that’s concerning them at the time. And they do expect you to do what you’re told.

But then again, I was only just learning what it means to be staff to a cat. I’m better trained these days.

Otto will doubtless help me with the wigwams. It’ll involve sticks, after all. And string. Together. I doubt that things could get much better in her mind. Apart from cuddles. And cheese.

Did the Guides do a badge for being staff to a cat? Perhaps they did a gardening badge?

Given the amount of new things I’ve sown, the snail activity and an impending week away for work, I’ll probably pop mesh back over some pots to protect things.

All this is new and, to be honest, enjoyable. I just wish that I’d have done some youthful activities that had involved learning how to tie knots properly.

I mean – knowing me, I'd have really much preferred to be a Scout or something (do they have a badge for football?), but the Guides would have been a damnable improvement on what I did get lumbered with!

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