Susan Morrison: Why the Girl Guides gave me my marching orders

Girl Guides having a barbecue
Girl Guides having a barbecue
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WHEN I was of a suitable age, I was marched off to the church hall and made to join the Girl Guides. My earlier career in uniform had not been auspicious. I had been brutally expelled from the Brownies.

The occasion, as I recall, was the annual outdoor campfire, in the countryside, if you consider the scabby council football pitch going deep in-country.

Ah, the thrill of the bonfire blaze under a starry sky lighting up the sign that says “No Ball Games or Dogs Allowed”.

Anyway, I got quite carried away by this excitement; you have to remember this was before the days of the bar-b-que.

Far in advance of Heston Blumenthall, I thought I’d experiment with food, and without opening it, I popped the tin of beans on the fire to see what would happen. Brown Owl was not best pleased, as I recall. I can still see her hat, dripping with tomato sauce and beans.

I was de-woggled in public. I took comfort from the film Beau Geste, where the buttons get cut off some legionaries’ uniform and he is marched into the desert in disgrace.

Anyway, I was a lousy Girl Guide. Our guide leader was obsessed with formation marching – for those who don’t know, it comprises of two lines of guides who are rubbish at everything else performing a sort of complicated caterpillar manoeuvre round the church hall, to music, naturally. With Miss Henderson giving it laldy on the badly-tuned piano.

Quite what this was supposed to achieve defeated me. Perhaps in the event of an invasion, Girl Guides were meant to baffle the enemy by performing complex marching on the beach to scunner them or something. I’m not sure how we were going to get the piano, or indeed Miss Henderson – who equalled the tonnage of a small Clyde tug – onto the beach.

Things have improved for the modern Guide, I understand, and now they have a new Chief Guide. And jolly good luck to her. I just hope the formation marching gets the boot.