On May 1st I challenged myself to write one hundred blogs over one hundred days, each of one hundred words. I was inspired by The Captain Tom Foundation to complete 100 somethings in memory of the Foundation’s inspiration, Captain Tom Moore who walked one hundred lengths of his garden to raise money for health charities, and succeeded in completing his challenge and bringing in over £32,000,000 (yes, over thirty two million pounds) <y modest challenge was small in comparison, but I donated £100 to his Foundation.
I completed my 100 in August, but the discipline of writing those exact hundred words had become ingrained, and I continue, each day (maybe not quite as conscientiously or rigorously as during the challenge) to produce exactly 100 words; I’m now on Day 134. You might think it’s getting easier; it isn’t. Yesterday I wrote about Brownies, not the squidgy chocolatey tray-bakes, but actual Brownies, the junior version of Girl Guides. They aren’t so junior now, as younger than the six/seven year olds that join are the Rainbows.
I was a Brownie. The Brownie groups, or troops, or packs, I’m not quite sure now, are divided into sixes, and each six is named after what were called ‘fairy folk. I didn’t realise until I was researching my 100 words yesterday, that originally the sixes had been called after trees, and it was only in 1918 that it was changed and the sixes became Elves, Gnomes, Sprites, Imps, Pixies, Fairies, Leprechauns, Little People, Bwbachod, Tylwyth Teg and Ghillie Dhu. I was a Fairy and eventually became a second in the Six, and then very proudly, a sixer, the leader of the xis fairies. We must have been a small troop – we had fairies, pixies, gnomes, imps and maybe leprechauns and sprites, I can’t really remember them!
We had to take the Brownie promise, saluting with two fingers together, and some people now have different thoughts about it: ‘I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and the Queen, to help other people every day, especially those at home.’ Before we took the promise, Brown Owl, our grown up leader, a kindly older lady as I remember, asked us each in turn if we understood the promise, and how we would try and keep it. I was a very serious child in many ways, and I was a great reader even when I was quite young. I wonder if Brown Owl struggled to keep a straight face when after some earnest thought I replied that if the country was eve in danger, maybe I could help the Queen escape the enemy! To be fair to the young me, it was only just over ten years since the war had finished, memories of it were prevalent, and of course my dad had been in the army for seven years.
We wore a brown tunic, a leather belt, a yellow neckerchief with a leather woggle, and as we earned badges for such things as swimming, cooking, reading, stamp collecting etc – the sort of things young girls did in those days, they would be stitched on our sleeve. When I became a second and then a sixer and was awarded some other badge – maybe a stripe in keeping with the forces I guess, they were sewn on the other sleeve. My fairy badge was sewn onto my tunic.
I can’t really remember what we did, various games and activities I guess, but at the end of the meeting we formed a circle,, and six by six we danced round a toadstool singing our individual song mine was – ‘We’re the Fairies bright and gay, helping others every day.’ There were various badges we could work towards, I know I took my swimming badge and when I received it, triangular in shape, it had a gold frog on it. I also got other badges – reading, of course,cooking, and other things I don’t remember. I enjoyed being a Brownie, but when I joined the guides it didn’t appeal to me in the same way. Maybe the age difference between seven and eleven year old Brownies wasn’t so wide as between eleven and sixteen year old guides. However, I was also becoming more active in the swimming club, and to be honest, that was much more fun!
This gives a fascinating history of the Brownies: