Monday, 6 February 2012

Scouting for Sausages

## A proviso; always with the provisos, but in this age of social awareness, political correctness, SOPA and stupid bill proposals that threaten to enslave us creatively one can never be too careful, and I don't like unintentionally offending people. If I'm going to offend people I'd like to do it very purposefully. This story is fiction. It's not about 'me', it's about the imaginary 'I'....although if you go Freudian and into the ID and Ego and all that lark then maybe it is me. These things may have happened, but I have very few memories beyond Christmas this year so it's doubtful, probably why I forgive people so easily. ###


Nothing tastes better than a sausage cooked over a slow burning fire in tinfoil. Especially if you didn't cook it, got it free, and it was taboo. When I was unlucky enough to be sent off to the junior cub scouts they made sausages forbidden. Fascists, didn't they know that modern society was founded on sausages!!? Well, if it wasn't it should have been, tea builds empires and what is tea without sausages.

Getting sent to the scouts was I thought similar to being sent to Connaught. To hell or to Connaught was the saying back in the 1600's when the English and that charming Cromwell chap were gradually eradicating the Irish from anywhere good to live on the island. Connaught was the crap part of Ireland, with lots of rocks, an inclination of the locals to speak Gaelic and as a result of the selfish inconsiderate Brits, far too many moody Irish men without enough moody Irish women to pacify them. This is how I saw the cub scouts. When I said as much to my previously dear parents - I tried unsuccessfully to emancipate myself after this slave driven experience they put me through - they tried to fob with me off with some vague talk about social skills, outdoor activities and a learning experience. When this didn't work they tried to bribe me with hot chocolate, but because I was morally incorruptible, they eventually just did what any good dictator does, and sent me to my room.

So I found myself standing in a wet field, with wet shoes, wet socks, wet hair and a wet looking cub scout leader who had never even heard of the word entertainment let alone spelt it. There is nothing worse than being told to go and explore nature when it's pissing down rain, you're in an exposed field with 9 other kids who hate you as much as you despise them, and the wind is slapping against your backside like a spatula. We're hardly going to sit around a stream and sing songs together about how great Jesus is now are we. I think looking back that it was all part of a great big experiment by somebody who had read too much Orwell and thought they'd see how long it takes 10 pubescent boys to maim, kill and eat their droopy eyed scout leader.

After spending far too long unpacking a crap tent in gale force winds that I had very little interest in actually putting up, I decided to escape. I swear that leader was a masochistic Nazi in disguise and as a vague part of my extended family are Austrian, I was convinced he would be after me once it got dark and I was weak suffering from dysentery and malnutrition. So I went for a walk in the wilderness and decided against my better judgement that I would entertain myself like in the Famous Five Enid Blyton books before my unseemly demise. The possibility of drowning in a swamp was infinitely preferable to slowly wasting away on the meagre rations of dry brown soda bread and tinned peaches. You couldn't even make a sandwich with it, strawberries maybe, but peaches were just ridiculous. I think the scout leader had read too much S. Fitzgerald and was maybe trying to be an exotic explorer role model, as cover for his eventual maiming of us all. So I left the camp.

Three hours later I was lost. I shouldn't have been too surprised considering that I was 13 years old, had no forestry experience, no compass, the wrong gear - I was wearing my Christmas runners - and absolutely no clue where I actually was. All of Ireland begins to look the exact same once you leave Dublin, which is why directions are all based around pubs as landmarks, they serve as the main point of distinction in a sea of green. I did find one man who briefly appeared to be my saviour, until I realised that if it wasn't because we were the only two people standing opposite each other in a field for miles around I would have had no idea that he was actually talking to me. I had absolutely no clue what he was saying. I'm pretty sure he said horse, pub and the big smoke at some stage but that's about it. The Irish accent becomes pretty much unintelligible once you leave the capital. God bless MTV for saving our nation from cultural decline and giving us a proper accent. I dread to think that without Laguna Beach just what we would have, like, totally become. We might all sound like people from Clare. I shiver. So I gave him a gentle smile as I do nowadays to people trying to get my bank details for Concern - not today love, but glad you keep trying - and made my not so merry way somewhere else in the countryside that looked exactly the same as all the previous places. I had to resist the temptation to look behind to see if my country friend was following; last thing I wanted was for him to mistake my wary glances as friendly eye contact and next thing I know I have a unintelligible, rambling, probably drunk Irishman on my hands. What was he even doing out here in the middle of nowhere anyway??

It's amazing how quickly a young boys mind can become obsessed with death and it's possibilities. I found that the longer I starved myself to death on my very own pilgrimage to somewhere resembling modern society that the more obscure my thoughts became. Why are blackbirds black? Do they mean to kill me? Can they sense my weakness? If I stumble will they just eat my eyes? If they do eat my eyes will that kill me quickly? If I do get attacked by them should I just offer them my eyes and hope that will be enough for them to leave me alone?? I can live without my eyes. What else could I survive without. My nose. Don't need that. Ears. Useless. Do blackbirds eat ears, I would think that they're too rubbery to really enjoy. Like snails. Even the gradual realisation that it was crows not blackbirds that eat carrion, and by carrion it meant dead, and thus blackbirds were cute little family oriented birds who eat seeds and small worms didn't puncture my death related pessimism. I was sure to die out here in the wilderness. Why would there even be another soul out here for heavens sake. That man must have come out here to die, much like the elephants do in Africa, maybe I had stumbled into a culchie burial ground, in which case I would never be found. The only thing worse than a rugged landscape of slowly perishing country folk could be a travelling community family Christmas pageant. A scary thought. Just when I was about to sink to my knees, spread my arms out as a signal for all the wild creatures to come and consume my tender virginal flesh so that as least some of Gods creatures could survive this torrid place, I saw a sign. Smoke. There was life.

I'm pretty sure that I ran to this smoke signal. I can't fully remember all the details because as I have stated I was malnourished from 5 hours (including travel time this morning) without synthetic sugars, having used up so much energy walking that my body was beginning to devour itself, and I was so excited that my brain had a little overload, much like my inbred springer spaniel that had an aneurism because it's tail kept running away from it. Something had to give eventually and physics dictated that the tail simply wasn't going to get longer or closer no matter how hard the poor creature tried to bend her body. Doing so most likely cut off the blood supply to her brain. Which was what I was doing, contorting my body into strange shapes to run longer, faster, harder. Slap those branches out of the way. Ignore the shrills of birds chasing you. Colours. Greens. Browns. Yellows. Red, danger danger. Then I was in the clearing, panting, glad to be alive but hating that I couldn't breathe and wishing I had brought my inhaler this time. I didn't like having it in public, it made me feel like Darth Vader and I hated Star Wars, the idea of so many stars scared me. I liked my insular world of just me and the other 4billion people on the planet, I could deal with those odds. But adding stars and other worlds into the equation was too much to compute. How could one get a girl if you're competing with an 8 foot tall two headed warrior who builds space ships with his bare hands. Impossible. What could I say? -"hi, I like comics and drawing pictures of dragons and when I run too fast I need to stop and use an inhaler or else I may collapse into a coma. Please pick me over that cool foreign alien guy thanks". Not happening. 

Entering the clearing was a slightly surreal experience, not unlike barging in on an alien species on a foreign planet I would imagine. All of the 5 heads turned and looked at me at once and stopped talking. They just stared. I stared back. Admittedly I did so because my eyes were blurry and I couldn't see from my exertions, but they might have taken it as a threat. Like gorillas, don't stare at them. Or was it do stare at them. Either way the heads separated from the one body and became five walking towards me. Very twilight zone. Then I could see clearly, and my heart stopped beating. For at least 4 seconds. Like hitting pause by mistake. It was my worst nightmare. They wore the same gaudy uniform as me. Only they had theirs almost covered with those silly colourful badges I was told to collect for doing tasks like building a fire, making a knot, using the stars for direction, silly things that I would have no use for in my real life of fast cars and proper, like, totally, English speaking company. They were like cub scouts but only older and with more hair on their faces. Lion scouts maybe they were called.

So that's how I came to get my sausages. My saviours turned out to be fellow scouts. From a different and much cooler company of course. And older. The other side of the city. They were so cool that they were allowed come camp without a group leader for one night out of three. I told them that I didn't want a leader so I'd come off to make my own scout group when I'd seen their smoke and thought that they might need a leader, and so I was going to volunteer myself. They acted like they believed me, which was nice of them. And then they gave me that life saving nectar. Those sausages, wrapped in tinfoil, stuck on the end of a forked branch - which nature makes just for these such occasions - and then cooked over the fire until they smell like pure delight. 

On my return, one of the older scouts brought me back, the bastard, I think he just wanted to check out the competition and I pretended that I was happy to guide him there even though I pretty much followed him. I had a pocketful of these delightful round meats which were promptly removed from my person for the ruckus I had caused by running away. And I was made to eat oxtail soup instead. Why anybody even came up with the idea of eating soup made of something attached to a cows arse is beyond me. So I didn't eat it, instead I poured it out to poison some nature, lay down in my pitiful tent and waited to die in my sleep.

I awoke after having a dream thinking of that sexy pig from the muppets and salivating over her, imagine how many thick cut juicy sausages you could get from her rounded hips. Joy.  Then I remembered that I was still in the shite tent in the middle of nowhere, with parents who obviously hated me, and the other boy in the tent had just farted. His fart smelled of oxtail soup. In that moment I had never loved childhood more.

## To anybody Irish who reads this, there won't be many, Irish people don't care much for their own unless they emigrate and do our form of colonialism, then I'm sorry if offence was caused, and I should have called Cromwell more of a bastard, but his reference was meant sarcastically. To anybody related to Cromwell.........well I can't print that.....##

27 comments:

  1. I have been involved with the Scouts as a leader since the age of 11 so... uh... ten... seventeen years! Holy shite. I've worked with every age group and there was a part of me that was terrified about what I was about to read.

    I really, really enjoyed this because it perfectly captured that moment in childhood when you're sent off by your bloody parents who don't understand a bloody thing about having to share a tent with other smelly kids.

    There's the exaggeration of the situation, which just about every single one of my beavers and cubs have done, and the disgust of everything around you.

    I love how easily you seem to be able to get into the mind of a kid and the things that matter then and the perception of everything by a boy of that age. I have read and watched too many things where children seem too adult because they're written by adults who have forgotten how a child reacts. I spend far too much time around kids (my position as a youth worker kind of demands it) and it grates when it doesn't feel quite right in fiction.

    I will possibly come back to this and say something more intelligent at a later date, once I've finished laughing like an idiot!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed this, Eoin. It was very witty and comical. I feel like this is something that people can easily relate to and that made it even funnier. I know while I was reading it I was thinking about all the times my parents forced me into something completely ridiculous so that I could learn skills that I still to this day have never used. I especially liked your use of sensory words. You're a great writer.
    -Victoria

    ReplyDelete
  3. "hi, I like comics and drawing pictures of dragons and when I run too fast I need to stop and use an inhaler or else I may collapse into a coma. Please pick me over that cool foreign alien guy thanks"

    The whole story made me laugh so much but that quote in particular completely cracked me up. Like I really burst out laughing out loud and that's lucky I'm working from home these days cause that would have been noticed in an office.

    The poem to your father notwithstanding (but, as I said, I can't ask of you to "please write more of that style"), that's my favorite piece of writing of yours, cause it's funny but it also deals very realistically with a 13-years-old perception of the world.
    This story is an "incredible adventure" the boy will remember for his whole life, whereas in reality it really is a wee boy scout who decided to be pig-headed, got lost, found sausage-armed older boy scouts and was brought back to his camp (and most likely copiously scolded... I mean, "subjected to the unfair wrath of the dictatorial system his family is".)

    Great work, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the dark humour of this, it's woven very well into the entire piece.

    I especially loved this sentence: "hi, I like comics and drawing pictures of dragons and when I run too fast I need to stop and use an inhaler or else I may collapse into a coma..." as I can completely relate to it all. A girl like me would have no hope against a cool alien bloke either I imagine...! Needless to say, it made me laugh.

    All in all a great read, very entertaining. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really made my monday afternoon reading this. I remember stupid trips like that all too well. School was the worse... Making you go into a river wearing overalls and waders just to find interesting forms of pond life... YAWN!
    I only ever did Rainbows (the one you do before Brownies!) it was sooooo boring that I couldn't be bothered to finish Rainbows... I only got two badges anyway! And one of them was for sowing (the only skill I use now)
    I'm saving this on my computer to read again. Its bringing back childhood memories and I can't stop laughing at it!
    You're a brilliant writer
    Hayley

    ReplyDelete
  6. I enjoyed this and am glad to have clicked on the link while scrolling through my twitter. I'm female (and American) and therefore have no idea about the scouts in Ireland, but I found the story amusing nonetheless, particularly all the small tangents you went off on -always nice to know that I'm not he only one who does that.

    Happy writing :)
    Manda Rave

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm dumb, I deleted my comment as it was filled with grammatical problems and reposted it but the new one hasn't appeared. Nevermind, all I wanted to say was that you put a smile on my face, thanks.

      Janine

      Delete
  8. Obviously, you've hit upon a very common experience for most kids, judging by the comments so far. (myself included) I must also say that I'm glad you didn't bring the massacre of/by rabbits into this one. Might have changed the tone a bit. ;)

    Thanks for the morning laugh, Eoin. Much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your penchant for writing a well balanced blend of immaturity and articulate imagery and introspection in these narratives never fails to make me smile. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really love this :) The way you use an anecdotal tone to your writing creates humour that's very easy to relate to, which I find is particularly effective. You're very good at relaying the voice of character through your writing, and keeping the piece humorous and articulate at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This was just too much. I laughed and snickered the whole way through. I wish I were Irish, so I could be offended by this. I don't see what is so offensive, but I am a descendant of Irish refugees from the Potato Famine, so I know basically nothing. But this, was comic gold. This should be a movie.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Too damn funny Eoin! You have quite the wit don't you. Love the paragraph about being obsessed about death. The progression from one to the next was hilarious. Oddly, that is probably how every parent feels as their kids go out into the world. Of all the different things that can go wrong and how the fear snowballs into the absurd. It all makes perfect sense in the moment to the person being affected. You captured that perfectly. Oh and the part about being malnourished and the synthetic sugars, brilliant. Please write more of these. A good laugh is hard to come by. Thanks for the giggles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhh! Forgot, the best lines in the whole story "They were like cub scouts but only older and with more hair on their faces. Lion scouts maybe they were called." Nearly peed myself laughing.

      Delete
  14. This story kept making me laugh. I was worried about all the tangents, but those just kept it feeling as if I were in a 13-year-old boy's mind (frightening thought).
    I was proud that I was able to recognize the Lord of the Flies reference, but never have I actually been thankful to have read that book. Well, beyond firmly stating my beliefs that I hated that book and I will never read it again. Of course, I hated most of the books they made me read in high school. I still hate some of them in college. But now I understand that need to pick apart a piece of literature and find out the tiny hidden things in it that the author may or may not have meant for us lit students to find.
    Okay. I had a bit of a tangent myself there.
    You have a habit of not putting question marks on sentences that are meant to be questions. And you clearly don't love commas as much as I do. But except for that, it was well written, and although I have only just begun to read your things, I look forward to reading more.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your writing has a way of reaching out and drawing a person into the story. I enjoyed reading this very much. It reminded me of why I never joined the Girl Scouts. I may be a simple girl but I enjoy indoor plumbing and a roof over my head too much to go hiking in the wilderness. A delightful tale that made me laugh on a boring day. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have a son who's a Boy Scout (tenderfoot) & the other is a Cub Scout. My Cub Scout recently described how to dig a latrine and the finer points of "going in the woods" over Thanksgiving dinner. He's a lot like I imagine you were at 9 which leads me to ask what the holy hell am I in for?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Imagine doing all that in a brown dress and yellow scarf, thanks very much Brownies. I also think being called a nymph at such a young age wasn't the best thing.
    Love the story as a boring Tuesday as been uplifted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmm, when I was in brownies and guides, we weren't required to wear our uniforms whilst camping. Maybe it depends on the troupe, or the country.

      Delete
  18. A boring evening at work has just been made better.

    Cheers :)

    Marie

    ReplyDelete
  19. Very enjoyable and so much easier to read than some of your posts both in content and style. I'm knackered and cant always cope with thought provoking. It did lack a few commas but not as many as some other pieces. It was very funny indeed and my favourie so far. It seems very authentic and I like the anecdotal style. I'm a brown owl so I have seen quite a lot of reactions to being sent away on camp. I've also been lost in Clare and knew I was in trouble when I stopped someone for directions and they asked 'do you remember a ditch'

    ReplyDelete
  20. I can't get past the fact that baby Eoin was not a fan of Star Wars...Like, what?

    ReplyDelete
  21. This was very entertaining and enlightening. As a long distance backpacker who never had a camping experience as a child, I can understand where many people have developed the idea that camping sucks. Fortunately, I was spared childhood ordeals such as the one your narrator describes and I now camp at will, enjoying all the sausage I want, preferably served with a chilled martini.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please write a book! I've never enjoyed reading blogs but this was actually more fun to read than the last Eragon book (and I loved that one). :D

    ReplyDelete
  23. That was just hilarious. Thanks so much for typing all that up for us to enjoy. And also - dabrigley has it aright!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This? Absolute perfection. My favorite story you've posted so far. In fact, I was reading it in my math class and all the people around me kept staring because I couldn't repress the giggles. It certainly read like the inside of a thirteen year old's brain.
    Speaking of brains, I wish I could pick yours for advice on my writing. You're practically a creative genius. I'm trying to write a children's story about hunger in the U.S. southwest for a class and it's absolutely killing me, mostly in the motivation department. I wanted to write it when I started, and I'd still really like to finish it because I can see it going somewhere pretty good. So, got an ideas to help me want to write it again?

    ReplyDelete