Thinking Strange Thoughts - The Cubs
When I was a young lad I joined the Cubs, this was in England but I’m sure you have them here as well. I loved it, we would wear a smart uniform and march around singing songs, it was very much like the Hitler Youth but we were not required to dob anybody in. Funnily enough years later I joined the army so I obviously like uniforms, being in the Cubs is very similar to being in the army except you rarely get shot at in the Cubs.
I can recall my first day, I was about 8 years old and felt very proud as I marched to the scout hut where we were to meet every Tuesday night. I was wearing grey shorts, a green top, a little Cubs cap and a green and white scarf held together by a little band of leather called a woggle. I felt very nervous as I opened the door to the hut and even more nervous when I was introduced to the woman who was in charge of us, she told me I was to call her ‘Akela” which means the wolf, I could see a definite similarity. She looked very big and scary, of course when you are 8 years old all adults look a bit big and scary, but I remember passing her in the street twenty years later and she was still big and scary. She was very strict and I remember once she was giving a bit of a speech and she suddenly pointed at me and said if she ever caught me playing with my woggle again whilst she was speaking she would make me stand outside. Anyway things soon settled down and I really enjoyed it, we had a special salute and then I would say Dib, Dib, Dib and someone would reply Dob, Dob, Dob, I must admit I never had the slightest idea why we did this but I was too embarrassed to ask just in case everyone else knew and I would look like an idiot. Sometimes we would all sit around and sing songs such as “Riding along on the crest of a wave” and “Ging, Gang, Gooly, Gooly”, even at the age of eight I recall thinking that if “ging,gang, gooly, gooly” was the best lyrics you could come up with, it was time to get out of the song writing business.
By now I was nearly 10 years old and getting very excited about joining the scouts, I felt I had done about all I could do in the cubs, for one thing I could not fit any more badges on my shirt. You get a badge for everything in the cubs, especially anything to do with knots, I had badges for tying knots,untying knots,tying Akela shoes together so that she fell over,making a noose, hanging Akela. It was just time for me to move on, if only for the fact that I would be able to wear long trousers in the scouts, I was getting sick of traipsing through the countryside wearing little shorts in the middle of winter, it does not matter how many choruses of ’Ging, gang,gooly, gooly”you sing, your legs are still freezing.
Unfortunately I had only been in the scouts for a short time, when problems started to emerge. The main thing was the uniform, whilst the cubs uniform had seemed very “sexy”when I was 8years old, the scouts uniform did not seem quite so “sexy’ now I was growing up a bit.You have to remember that we were now in the sixties, there was great music about, fashion, something I had never taken any interest in , was now becoming very important and a lot of my mates were starting to tell me that the scouts were not ’cool” anymore.
I did not really want to leave so for a while I tried to combine the scouts with the sixties, I started making little adjustments to my uniform. The first week I ditched my scout pants and turned up in a pair of hipster trousers with huge flairs, the scout leader gave me a polite warning, he also gave me a warning the following week when I also wore pointy boots with very high heels and a paisley neckerchief instead of my scout scarf. But it all became to much for him at the next meeting ,when he saw I had abandoned my cap and wore a headband with “make love not war’printed on it.It was the end of my scouting career, not many of you will understand the humiliation of having your woggle confiscated in front of your peers. It was several years before I was able to join the army and play around in a uniform again, there were new badges to sew on, different songs to learn, some of them with lyrics even more colourful than”Ging,gang,gooly,gooly”,you could visit exotic countries, meet interesting people and shoot at them, apart from that very little difference really.