Read introduction

This is a poem that I wrote for the 75th anniversary of my old Scout Troop, 1st Cullybackey. I recited it at a celebration dinner back in 2012 and it was well received. However, I don't expect people outside of my "neck of the woods" to get it. Then again, local vernacular aside, maybe I underestimate!
My scouting days back in late 1960s and through 1970s from cubs to scouts to ventures, is a major part of my younger life. And a reference point. I enjoyed writing it anyway.
Brown and yellow - that was the colour of our troop scarf.

The Brown and Yellow

Img_1589_-_copyby Billy J. Stewart28 Mar 2015

I pass the spot on Main Street on occasion when I visit,
Its empty now and nothing marks the spot – so easy to blink and miss it.
As I stop and stand and close my eyes the people think I’m mad,
But they never knew the days of yore, or the good times that we had.
Yes I close my eyes, and as I do I hear the echoes from that time back then
It’s like I’m there once more, and I can see them all again…
In Brown and Yellow scarves, on Friday nights to gather,
The boys from Cullybackey Cubs and Scouts, rich or poor it didn’t matter.
We came for fun and laughter and competition mad,
There was no end of football slaggin’ banter to be had.
That little wooden hut that was the Millar Memorial Hall,
Seemed as big as Wembley pitch inside when we kicked a tennis ball.
Then a mad run up to Bob Getti’s, and a bag of chips for just 8p,
Finished off the night just perfect, ah the craic was all for free.
Days away in trips and camps, with tents and cooking fire,
It taught us independence and took our confidence so much higher.
The Easter Hike was something that would beat the SAS
Up to the neck in clabber, sure we were a proper mess
Walking miles and miles in circles, climbing every mountain top
“Just another 10 miles til dinner…” - and us about to drop.
Our rucksacks they were laden with all the right, well-balanced supplies
Mars bars by the dozen, and spray to stop the flies.
And Tins of something edible – but what was inside just had us bate,
For some eejit had torn all the labels off – a brainwave to save weight.
So we had Semolina for our breakfast, and prunes for mid-day snack
We came to know the sound of beans (in more ways than one!) if you gave the tin a shake.
Huddled in a two-man tent, with tranny clamped to ear,
We twiddled with the dial to bring the distant music near.
The nights of Top 30, Luxemburg 208 fading in and out of sound,
Or a far off First Division match, when the signal could be found.
And Summer Camp, where it was damp – the highlight of the year,
Ye can keep yer Lanzarote, with Costa-del-Magilligan so near
The minibus was laden and the axel under heavy stress
Crammed with larders and Icelandics and the rest was just a mess.
But it got us all there and in one piece we did arrive at last
July fortnight, and off the sea there blew an icy blast.
Tents up, rucksacks laid out and the groundsheet neat and trim
Trump-card games by Tilley lamp in lighting that was dim
Scouring pans with Brillo-pads and scraping wooden pegs
And shorts on every summer camp brought the sun tan to our legs.
Or maybe it was only dirt – we couldn’t really tell
And we hung our soggy socks up in the tent – phew what a smell!
A big fry-up but first we had to melt a brick of lard;
No talk of healthy eating back in those days - but we were hard.
Wooden larders smell of paint and varnish - and sorry, soggy matches
We stood huddled under kitchen canvas and threw our nosh-up down the hatches.
Angel Delight for afters, set like Blue Circle and hard to stir it,
Lumpy sweet and sticky, like chewing cat dung in a baul o’ syrup..!
Tin mugs of tay and bread and butter, ah sure you couldn’t bate it,
Then the rota of washing up and every one of us would hate it.
River splashes, mountain dashes and rafts made out of drums and logs
Such a feat of engineering, til it fell apart and we had to swim like frogs.
We ate like kings, we cooked like chefs and we hadn’t any fridges;
We weren’t the only ones to feast, as we were ate by midges.
Sheath knives on our scout belts made us think we were tough, like Rambo
Living in the jungle and survival was a scramble.
So Magilligan and Loch Lomond, Wales and Norway, England too
And the lakes in Enniskillen where we made excursions by canoe.
And Switzerland with mountains that seemed to go up forever
For those of us who hiked to the top – jaw-dropping views to forget never!
We were Curlews and the Eagles (who were not a big Pop band)
And Cuckoos and Ravens, patrols so proud and grand.
Points were took each evening, and Ken kept a wee red book,
We were on our best behaviour lest our name in it might be took.
And what a show each Parents Night – we all were on the stage,
Beavers, Cubs, Scouts – all performers, every age.
Left turn took a right turn and I often was confused,
And when we faced the wrong way all the parents were amused!
Remember Bob-a-job days when “bobs” then had some worth,
We scrubbed cars and streets and windows, pulling weeds and digging turf.
The badge work was amazing and we tied ourselves in knots,
Of “shanks” and “reefs” and “bows” and such-like there were lots.
We promised to be faithful, and do our duty too
In days when duty mattered to the many, not the few.
We got the Scouting Standard, Advanced and Chief Scouts Award
We set about each challenge and did whatever it might afford.
And landing up “The Rake” where a “wide game” was the theme,
There hiding you might notice a big old salmon in the stream.
At every year’s thanksgiving, we’d march along the street,
And as the bagpipes played we’d find it hard, our step, to keep.
Then signing Christmas Carols at Peter Stott Martin House
We belt them out like lions, but if asked to speak we’d be a wee timid mouse.
And everywhere we went Ken had his movie camera too
They say it never lies and this we know as oh so true.
As we see ourselves back then, and some faces who are gone forever
We think about the bond we have that time will never sever.
As we sit around these tables and we look at one another,
We can’t help but think that this was what was meant by every Scouts your brother
We promised on our honour when honour meant what it says
And our honour brings us back to think and talk about those days.
Time moves along and we go too, och we just get on with life
And we polish up our memories like that must-have big sheath knife.
We were Scouts, and proud to wear the brown and yellow,
We were “a band of brothers” and with time this bonding will not mellow.
But its not done and Cullybackey go from strength to strength
Some people wonder why anyone would go to such a length
To bring along the younger generation once again,
And today new memories in the making just like way back then.
As we grow older we might wonder as the pace of change is fast
If anything endures the test of time and will ever last.
But the days of brown and yellow with our children must be shared,
So as is said in certain circles we must always Be Prepared!