I mentioned to my other half today as an idle thought in passing “I wonder if Grace will go to Brownies when she’s old enough?”
“Did you go?” enquired he, feigning interest.
“Yeah but I didn’t really like it. Might’ve changed now though. Might be better.”
“What did you do at Brownies anyway? What was it?”
I then proceeded to describe the weekly events that took place in the little church hall down the road every Monday when I was wee. I’d toddle off in my little brown dress, bobble hat and yellow neck tie, for an evening of skipping round mushrooms, making weird hand signals, and doing un-fun manual labour in exchange for a badge. The thing is, I’d never really though about how bizarre Brownies actually was. The more I explained the stupider it all seemed. The explanation to my husband went something like this:
“Well, we were separated into four groups. Fairies, Pixies, Elves and Ghillie Dhus. I was a Guillie Dhu . . . ” NB what the HELL is a Ghillie Friggin Dhu??? “. . . and one by one, each group had to hold hands and skip in a line round this giant plastic mushroom. . . ”
Husband’s interest is no longer feigned but genuine. He’s looking at me aghast.
” . . . and we all had a special song but I can’t remember the Ghillie Dhu’s one. We had to sing is as we skipped. Anyway, the different groups had a leader called a sixer, and a kind of deputy leader, and we had to earn badges to sew on our dress. I cleaned the toilets out for my housekeeping badge.”
Husband’s beer is poised twixt arm of sofa and mouth, such is the bewilderment my tale has created, he has frozen in bafflement.
“Also we had to do this kind of salute thing to Brown Owl – who was like the overall leader, although I always though she was a bitch. Even before she made me clean the loos. Once, I even refused to be a sixer when she offered it to me just to be anarchistic. ”
YEAH! HAVE THAT BROWN OWL BEE-ATCH! TAKE YOUR SIXER OFFER AND SHOVE IT! (I also remembered however, that I went home and cried about it as they immediately offered sixer to my best friend Keeley who jumped at the chance. Camaraderie was obviously NOT on the agenda in the Ghillie Dhus.)
After a long pause, a contemplatory slurp of Carling, and a weird look in my direction, my plain talking husband’s conclusion is thus:
“So Brownies is like a cult then?”
I didn’t really have a come back.
Ladies. Was my Brownie experience normal? Or were the Grimsby Brownies a cult unto themselves? I know the brownies have changed They wear jumpers now apparently. HOODIES by all accounts. What’s the world coming to? Is the new Brownie badge an ASBO? Tsk. AND I bet they don’t promise to do their duty to God and to serve the Queen. Disgraceful.
I would love to know more though. Are the Ghillie Dhu’s still in force? Are children still made to clean toilets out? or to skip round giant mushrooms? Do the thirty something’s reading this have any similar memories?
P.s – Just googled “Ghillie Dhus” and they are Scottish spirit fairy – guardian of trees, very shy, docile creatures that live alone in birch trees protecting the woods around them. They are about 7″ tall, have light green skin and wild black hair, and are thin beings with long arms and fingers. They wear clothing made from sewn together leaves and knitted grass and mosses.
That’s good then. Was worried it might be something weird.