Walls of Jericho – Church Mag Sep

We’re Riding Along on the Crest of a Wave

…..OR Wot I did on my holidays.

Innit funny how you find something to write about when you said you wouldn’t have time?

Do you remember having to write an essay upon return to school in September. Usually mine was an essay about day trips to the museums in London. We didn’t have the money to go away every year, it was more every other year on the chara to the Cliffs Hotel in Dovercourt and the museums in the intervening years.

I loved the museums. Especially the interactive stuff.  I was in wonderland. But there was also one torture that South Kensington held for me and other unwitting children unfortunate enough to be born into families with more than their statistical complement of under canvas sleepers (cue the concealed orchestra – dah dah daaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!)…..

… Baden-Powell House.

Well actually, it wasn’t the building, which was ace, what with all the uniforms and bugles and sabres from the Boer War, it was more the catering. I had Cornish pasty and chips when dad insisted on taking us there for lunch. It was dry and too peppery and they did not have ketchup in the canteen. Now daddy might have been used to evil grub incinerated over a campfire when him and his chums pitched camp in Gilwell Park, but couldn’t swallow a thing when I was 8 unless it was smothered in the red stuff.

I mentioned this to dad the other day and he said the food in there was OK from what he remembered, but we’re going back a few summers to when scouts still wore shorts and squatted in a circle and hollered “Akela we’ll dyb dob dub!” for all they were worth.

Take my word for it, the nosh was poor. Imagine my surprise then when I felt compelled to google BP House. It still belongs to the Scout Association, but it’s a conference centre now and here’s the amazing bit – it’s catering is now award winning. You name it, they’ll cook it for you. They even do kosher and halal if it’s wanted. It’s a far cry from dry pasty and chips, but I’ll pass all the same. I wouldn’t want to find out that yet another childhood memory was wrong.

***

I didn’t like being in the cubs, BUT I was good at it and I looked forward to the day when I’d be sixer in charge at the grand howl. It didn’t look like it was going to happen though. When it was my turn to get bumped up from seconder to sixer of my six, they brought in another lad from a rival six to be in charge. They did that a lot, swapping kids around.

One night, my sixer was off sick, so I stood in for him as was the custom. The grand howl wouldn’t be mine, though, as our sixer took the lead the week before and it would be another 4 weeks until our turn came round again.

But stone the crows, the lad in charge that night got a fit of the  giggles and could not recite the ritual words “dyb dyb dyb dyb.”

Akela got fed up and told the next sixer to do it instead. Amazingly, he got a fit of the giggles too and couldn’t perform, so it went to the next sixer. He was a dope and he dobbed when he should have dybbed. Cue for another round of laughter and so we’d come full circle and now it was up to me to save the night.

I dybbed when I should have dybbed, dobbed when I should have dobbed and held the required number of fingers to each earole. I was word perfect.

I treasure that memory to this day because I never did make it to sixer myself. I left  when I fell out with Akela, but that’s another story that I might already have told you about in an earlier article.

***

I’m going to finish on food again this month. Scouts the world over are renowned for their love of sausages and I was no exception. One year, we went to a theatre in Chadwell Heath I think it was for the Gang Show. Yes, the real deal. Not some imitation amateur dramatics that a bunch of Akelas press ganged their kids into doing, but the genuine Ralph Reader Gang Show with Ging Gang Goolie, Riding Along On the Crest of a Wave and everything. And when I say everything, I mean they had four, yes FOUR different sauces for the hot dogs in the foyer.

There was red sauce, spicy brown, sweet brown and mustard and I put all 4 on my dog. Mmmmmmmm-mmmmmmm! Heaven.

My mouth was on fire afterwards, but oh boy did it beat those pasties in Kensington.

***

I’ve been Ben Jericho. Dob dob dibbly dob.

PS if you want to know what I DID do on holiday, here’s a musical clue.

♫♪♫ Who sank the boat?

Noah, Noah!

Who sank the boat?

Brother Noah sank the boat. ♪♫♪

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