Scouting for Boys…

More recycling and filing from the archives today, this time featuring two blogs about Ben and scouts written in March and April 2011. I have postponed (re)publication of the double whammy of posts on the topic of dog-eggs in public places by special request of Carolyn Gray, who has enjoyed my last couple of ‘nice’ blogs *shudder*. Normal Ranting Service will be resumed next week, but for now let’s all put on our shorts and woggles and have a jamboree …

Dib Dib Dib…

Okay, I know they don’t do that at scouts any more, but I thought titling this post ‘Ging Gang Goolie might give the wrong impression…

Ben’s scout group were having a ‘maintenance day’ yesterday, so we spent the morning picking up leaves without rakes, weeding without trowels, pruning without secateurs and cleaning gutters with one three-step step-ladder to share between about 97 of us. Now I know scouts is all about improvisation, but I do think a little bit of forethought might have been a skill worth passing on too – perhaps with the kids being able to earn a ‘common sense badge’ to sew onto their epaulettes (actually, these days they can buy glue – bang goes the needlecraft badge too!). Most annoying of all, I had specifically asked on Friday night what kind of tools we should bring and been told ‘oh, just yourselves and a screwdriver’.

A quite interesting social observation: Within ten minutes of arriving the boys had formed a circle and started building a bonfire, while the girls had formed a circle and started gossiping.  Also worthy of note, the boys quickly realised that being damp, green, or a mixture of both, the fire-making materials would be hard to light and would create huge amounts of smoke. Undaunted, they forged ahead anyway using their scarves as breathing filters and (I suspect) a hefty splash of siphoned petrol nicked from the inoperative (the team leader had failed to check the spark plug) lawnmower to get things started. A splendid blaze ensued, in which only three beaver scouts (cannon-fodder!) and a potting shed were lost.

There was a quite large bush in need of a heavy trimming (ooooh er, missus), and when I stumbled across a tree saw I was only happy to oblige. When I had finished, I was approached by one of the mum’s who asked ‘Are you the man with the saw?’

‘The man with the sore what?’ I quipped.

Not a titter. Don’t know why I bother sometimes.

Anyhooo. T’was a very pleasant but damp morning spent out in the fresh air – something trimmed bushwe’ve not had much opportunity for in recent weeks. This has got to be the longest winter on record, with more false starts than the deaf Olympics (they can’t hear the gun, y’see). Hopefully spring will arrive properly soon (rather than just hinting of better things to come for a day or so and then fucking off again), and we can all get Aht and Abaht for the Easter hols and stuff.

Oh. When I started today’s blog I wasn’t too sure of the spelling of ‘Ging Gang Goolie’ so looked it up on ‘t’internet. I found this lovely QI story about the song’s origins, that would be very suitable for ‘The Hackenthorpe Book of Lies’.

The Legend of the Great Grey Ghost Elephant

 […] A later story involving an African legend was invented as an explanation for the song. The story, “The Great Grey Ghost Elephant” was written by Dorothy Unterschutz, a Canadian Scout Leader from Edmonton. It was published in Scouts Canada’s “The Leader” magazine in 1991 (June–July issue, Page 7). The story goes:

In the deepest darkest Africa, every year, after the rains, the “Great Grey Ghost Elephant” arose from the mists and wandered throughout the land. When it came to a village, it would either go around the village or through it. Villagers believed that if it went round the village, the village would have a prosperous year, and if it went through it, there would be drought.

The elephant had gone through the village of “Wat-Cha” three years in a row, and the situation was really bad in the village. A plan to deter the elephant from going through the village was made by Ging-Ganga, the village leader and Ha-la-shay, the medicine man. Ging-Ganga and his warriors were going to frighten the elephant by standing in its path and shaking their shields and spears. Hay-la-shay and his followers were going to cast magic spells, and frighten the elephant by the sound of shaking medicine bags. When the elephant arrived, the villagers gathered at the border of the village and started shouting the name of their leaders, “Ging-Ganga” and “Ha-lay-shay”. “Shally wally” was the sound made by shaking medicine bags. The villagers were successful in their plan, and the elephant went around the village, making the “Oompah, oompah” sound. The villagers rejoiced and sang the “Ging Gang…” song.

Great Grey Ghost Elephant?


All together now… Ging Gang Goolie Goolie Goolie Goolie Wat-Cha…



Yesterday Ben had two friends around for the day so they could make arrangements for a scout/explorer ‘camping challenge’ they’re supposed to be doing. The general idea is that they’re supposed to arrange the whole thing themselves, everything from booking and paying for the campsite, arranging different roles (i.e. one should be the map reader, one should put up the tents, and one should be the ‘cook’……), right through to liaising with the scout leader to go through risk assessment and team coordination etc. The thing is, and with the best will in the world, they’re all twits. There is a fourth member of the group, who will effectively be babysitting the three twits even though they’re all the same age (well, not quite – my son is a year younger and is autistic, but apart from being very naive and vulnerable because of that naivety he’s probably the least twit-like of the three twits, iyswim), but he is away for the whole of the Easter break so can’t be involved at this stage.

I tried to get them organised for getting organised, but obviously can’t do it for them as that sort of defeats the whole object, so after telling them they needed to liaise with the scoutmaster and showing the ‘Senior Explorer’ how to use a phone book so he could contact her, I gave them access to a PC, a notepad and pencil each and left them to it.

About two hours later they had e-mailed the scoutmaster, having lifted her e-mail address from the latest newsletter (none of them felt comfortable using a phone for anything other than texting their mates), to say ‘we would like to do it on the 22nd/23rd if that’s okay’, knowing full well that the missing-for-Easter-break scout who actually might be able to organise such an event wouldn’t be available. When I pointed that flaw out they said ‘well we could do it twice, maybe?’ and disappeared up the garden to have a bounce around on my son’s trampoline. I had a look at their notepads, to see how they’d got to that point, and the only ‘notes’ were some cartoons one of them had drawn of the others and the words ‘Dinner for camp – Pot Noodles – 2 each.’

I am reassured in one way that despite his dx my son doesn’t seem any more lacking in common sense than other kids his age, but somewhat ironically I also find that quite shocking. I’d be the first to put my hand up and admit that at thirteen/fourteen I was daft as a brush (and would even concede there’s not been much in the way of an improvement since), but unless my memory is getting really selective I wasn’t THAT daft. These Twits (son excluded, ‘cos I do think in this case autism is a reasonable mitigating circumstance – though I’m not one of those parents who sees it as a ‘get out of jail free card’ for lowered expectations and wilful ignorance) really do put the ‘less’ into ‘feckless’, and if that’s the norm for fourteen year old kids these days then I for one find the implications fecking frightening!

NB: Must remember to suggest they ditch the Pot Noodles in favour of crisps and sausage rolls. I have serious doubts any one of them will pass the risk assessment for ‘Boiling Water with a Camping Gaz Ring’, and the MSG just floats to the top if you use cold.


PS: My lovely friend Sarah Miles has 3 blogs short-listed for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards. Voting closes this weekend, so if you fancy doing something nice for someone why not have a quick look at her blogs and if you like ’em take a minute to vote.

Her nominations are for ‘Hello Wall’ in the ‘Outstanding’ category, ‘Supper and Syntax’ in ‘Writer’ and ‘What Would Nigella Do?’ in ‘Food’. Voting form is HERE 


4 thoughts on “Scouting for Boys…”

  1. M’pleasure…Bugger… I think it’s because I’ve voted – it must leave a cookie or something – but I thought it would open for anyone else, iyswim…

    Try going for it via one of her blogs – details on my ‘home’ page in the sidebar 🙂

  2. I glue my daughter’s brownie badges on. I got chucked out of Brownies…hence no needlework badge.

    Thanks for the shout out…voting now closed and being counted *bites fingernails*

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