Being prepared

PUBLISHED: 13:00 31 May 2007 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 May 2010

IT was interesting recently to see on the television Ian Hislop talking about Scouting for Boys. For some reason a man in the position as editor of Private Eye or a panelist on Have I Got News For You does not seem to represent the Scouting ethic. But the

IT was interesting recently to see on the television Ian Hislop talking about Scouting for Boys.

For some reason a man in the position as editor of Private Eye or a panelist on Have I Got News For You does not seem to represent the Scouting ethic.

But there he was talking about the early days of the Scout movement and the work by Baden Powell to set up the youth organisation.

It wasn't, it seems, a bad idea as Scouting has survived more than 100 years.

If the organisation had realised exactly the kind of Boy Scout - in those days we were Boy Scouts - that I was to become then it may not have reached its century year.

You see I can now admit that I once cheated - well, not so much cheated, but bent the rules.

It was not really that dishonest. It was a question of making an honest mistake.

Our patrol were doing our backwoodsman badge - a sort of minor SAS self-survival test - and part of the examination was to take a dirty can of water, boil it to make it almost pure.

First, one condition of the test was that the water had to be, well, dirty. So there was everyone else around me throwing lumps of mud and wringing out damp socks into the utensil provided.

As the water was reaching boiling point the contents looked absolutely revolting and no-one in their right mind was actually going to drink such a concoction.

Once boiling point had been reached we were then supposed to sieve the contents through a piece of muslin and we were left, hopefully, with water as clear as a mountain stream.

And there was nothing wrong with the end result I achieved.

The trouble was, as was pointed out later, I had forgotten to add any kind of debris to the water.

It looked as clear as it could be from the start.

The end product didn't even raise the suspicion of the Scout leader who was to decide whether we had passed that particular test and were worthy of such a badge.

I suppose he may have showed some sympathy because I was the one who actually drank the water.

Still I did manage to demonstrate the difference between a bow-line and a clove-hitch and can still produce a neat reef knot.

Perhaps seeing Baden Powell the other week was enough to come clean about the episode.

After all, there is a Scout promise to honour.

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