Monday, February 13, 2006

The Boys Brigade


In the dim and distant past I had the dubious pleasure of being a member of the Boys Brigade.

It had two sections: the Junior Brigade up to the age of eleven, and the Senior Brigade for those aged eleven and over. The juniors was great; we spent most of our time mucking about and playing football. In hindsight I can see that, rather like the Jesuit Order, the juniors was a way of collaring us young so that we would stumble into the seniors with no idea what awaited us.

The Boys Brigade at that time had its roots in Britain’s period of imperial pre-eminence. The idea of the organization was to produce fine, outstanding examples of manhood, presumably so they could be sent out to govern the fuzzy wuzzies in Ongobongoland in a fair and equitable manner. This was a bit silly as the British Empire in the late 1970’s consisted of Hong Kong, Ascension Island, and the Falklands. The fuzzy wuzzies, having learnt all they needed to know about the phrase ‘fuck off’ and Association Football, had most ungratefully told us to piss off back to our wet little islands.

The Boys Brigade had many of the features of a quasi-paramilitary organisation. There were military caps, armbands denoting rank, and belt buckles that had to be polished until gleaming. We seemed to spend all our time marching about in formation and standing at attention while a martinet officer inspected our uniforms.
Most of us were a bit sick of it, but rather like the IRA, once you were in you were in you were in for good. There was no way out.

The one thing that made it tolerable was the annual camp at Douglas on the Isle of Man. We departed from Belfast on an ancient Isle of Man Steam Packet Co ferry that had seen action during the evacuation of Dunkirk, and smelt like it. A week under canvas wasn’t that enjoyable in itself; what was ace was the opportunity to escape to the bright lights of Douglas.

After last post had been blown, and the Officers retired to their tent, us senior boys would sneak out and head into town for a spot of debauchery. The younger scrotes, having been threatened with extreme violence, didn’t dare breathe a word.

We went to nightclubs, sank pints of lager, danced like spastics, and generally felt dead hard. We got away with this for two nights, until Rodney McCallister informed us that brandy and ginger was a vastly superior drink to lager, and proceeded to get pissed out of his tiny mind.

We discovered just how superior a drink it was later that night. Rodney projectile vomited over two of the junior boys, who promptly ran screaming to the officer’s tent. We was rumbled. That was the end of our nocturnal adventures. We spent the rest of the week confined to camp peeling spuds.

I suppose the Boys Brigade was a character forming experience. On balance I suppose it’s better for spotty youths than hanging around the kiddies playpark in hoodies swigging Buckfast.

15 comments:

Kyahgirl said...

so many times the party is ruined by the errant vomiters!

hey, did you see my question below (in the 'swearing' post) about the correct pronunciation of twat. Curious minds like to know. :-)

Kyahgirl said...

p.s. are you in this picture?

garfer said...

Twat is pronouced with a hard a. 'Twot' just sounds silly.

I think that photo dates from the 1960's, long before my time.

Kyahgirl said...

'twot' is the only way I've ever heard it. The things I learn on UK blogs are really quite mind boggling.

so sorry to offend you by implying you may have been in such an old photo :-)

Sniffy said...

Of course twat is pronounced twat, it's only those daft americans and canadians who don't know how to talk properly.

My sister used to be in the Girls Brigade at our local Methodist church. It was a Friday evening gathering and me and Mother went to meet her there to walk her home when she was finished. Every week, the scary Brigade leader used to ask me when I was going to join, to which I replied, "I'm not".

I was never quite sure what Anna did while she was there, but she enjoyed it for a few years I suppose. And I always got my Friday night chocolate treat when Mother took me into the local sweet shop on our way home.

garfer said...

A lucky escape from mind control Tina.

Then again, I'm sure you would have looked dead butch in uniform.

pissoff said...

I was a wrenette. I had a short stint of playing the snare drum while I was at it. Oh the memories.

suburban wonder said...

I was a Girl Scout for 3 years. I sold cookies, went on campouts, and can macrame a fantastic lanyard. I'm signing Miss Peanut up for this as soon as she's old enough - next year...

Christ, I feel old.

garfer said...

Scouts were the enemy.

Dib, dib, dib indeed.

Tossers.

Convict said...

I was in the air cadets and totally agree that these sorts of paramilitary groups are indeed character building. Oh the fun we had with thunderflashes. Surprising that we didn't lose any limbs.

Wyndham said...

I lasted about two weeks in the Cubs. Thursday nights, 6-30pm. The Six Million Dollar Man was on the tv. Something had to give.

Gordon said...

Blimey, that brought back some memories. I too used the simple threat of violence to ensure sneaky nights away from camp were kept quiet.

I even stuck it out long enough to get my Queens badge... similar to the Duke of Edinburgh award.

funny thing said...

I know someone who worked for the Boys Brigade and he is a complete pervert. Now he works for a Christian charity and is still a pervert.
Uggh.

Lock up your kids....

garfer said...

I'm sure the oppurtunity to wear a SS uniform, black gloves, and carry a cane, must have attracted plenty of paedos and right wing fantasists into the ranks of the Boys Brigade officer corps.

S.I.D. said...

They always reminded me of Thunderbird puppets.

The hats did it.