Just sayin’…

March 18th, 2024Just sayin’…

Great to see the Daylesford Guide Hall getting the renovations it needs for a new generation of Guides. And apparently Brownies are now Junior Guides.

By Donna Kelly

Great to see the Daylesford Guide Hall getting the renovations it needs for a new generation of Guides. And apparently Brownies are now Junior Guides.

I was a Brownie as a kid. And then a Guide for a bit. Neither were really my cup of tea. Even then I had problems with authority and it might have been the 70s and things might have been a-changin’ but not so fast at good ol’ Franga.

We had to wear our uniforms and I remember forgetting my hat. I was getting told off when I replied that you weren’t meant to wear hats inside – probably because I watched my rapidly balding father remove his hat as he entered buildings.

“Aha,” was the retort. “That is just men. Think about the Queen, she always has her hat on.” And thus started the life of a republican.

We also got snap inspections – on what we had in our pockets. Now, at the time, I was about seven, and my mum washed our clothes and we put them on clean – and empty. But apparently to Be Prepared – thanks Baden-Powell – you had to have all manner of things in your pockets. Bits of string to tie stuff up, elastic bands for wayward hair, coins for emergency telephone calls, a packet of matches for a quick billy boil. I had nothing. Nada. I was officially unprepared.

It was also awful with the Guide Hall just over the way from the Scout Hall.

As we learnt the right way to sweep and sew, we could hear the boys hooting and hollering and having the most jovial time. Of course, looking back, I hope they were having a jovial time and not hollering for any other reason.

I remember well the only game we did play was where we turned a small mixing bowl, filled with flour, upside down and the leader, Kanga perhaps was her name, gently pushing five-cent coins into the mix.

The fun part was leaning over, with our hands firmly behind us, picking the coins out of the flour with just our teeth. It was my turn, and all was going well, and it looked like I might have finally nailed something, when my cousin reached forward and pushed my entire face into the bowl. It was like blackface but in reverse.

Everyone, but me, even Kanga, laughed and laughed. Hmmm.

I have two other vivid memories of Brownies. Mucking around inside the hall when the session was over and someone calling out “someone’s grandfather is here” and of course it was my balding, older dad, coming to pick me up.

I remember not even correcting the kid, just getting my stuff and wandering off to the car. Dad was in another memory. We had to gain as many badges as we could and I was going for the apparently easy Homemaking one. How hard could it be?

The handbook suggested that if your parents went out for dinner you quietly prepare a cuppa for their homecoming. So out came the good china, the silver cutlery, a little sugar bowl, milk in the tiny jug and some of those lovely square mint chocolates you used to get after dinner. And typing this I realise that is why they were called after dinner mints.

Anyway, I left it all in the dining room and snuck around into the hall when I heard them arrive. I was feeling pretty happy until I heard my Dad shout “what’s all this shit” and Mum trying to quieten him down.

They never mentioned anything about your dad coming home half cut. You know, the wonderful 70s. I am sure it is all different. And if those ads for “dads for us” are anything to go by, so is parenting 101.

One last thing, and this is nice. I wrote a column back at Christmas about a bloke who was signwriting, by hand, the two butcher shops in Daylesford. Beautiful calligraphy. He told me during Covid he used to scroll through the phone book and randomly choose names and send them wonderful notes of hope – with no return address.

I said I could have done with one of those – and one arrived last week.

Robert Holbery, I think you’re special too. Just sayin’…

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