Monday, 16 July 2012

"...Smile and Whistle under all circumstances"

Me as a Cub Scout
This subject of this post came up in conversation with The Lady Wife the other day and I thought 'Hmmm, I could do a nice little bit about that on the blog!' plus, in a way, it's something of a reaction to the myriad of recent posts by fellow enthusiasts Retro Chick (here and here) and Tuppence Ha'penny (here, here and here) about why they wear 'Vintage', partly in relation to the recent 'Vintage backlash' (I might do a proper post about that as well).

Now, over the last few months I've had the pleasure of being interview about my Southern Retro project for publications such as Vintage Life Magazine, Flush Magazine and Milkcow Vintage - and one of the questions that often comes up is why the retrospective life appeals so much over that which modern life has to offer.

My answer nearly always has something to do with keeping history alive, or the great music and dancing, or the important of clothes and pride in ones appearance or, most importantly, ones positive attitude to life in general.

This last one I think is interesting because it's so fundamental to me and I have trouble understanding why it is that modern life just doesn't seem to embrace attitudes such as good manners, courtesy and respect in the same way that it did in the past. I think the reason for this is it was instilled in me at a young age and in such a positive way it just makes sense.

This 'instillation' for want of a better word was carried out during my time as a boy in the Boy Scout Association.

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell
As you probably know the story of the Boy Scouts started in 1908 when Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell wrote "Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship"—an adaptation of his earlier military training manuals aimed at educating and training the younger generation in "their physical, mental and spiritual development".

Now if that title doesn't give you a clue into what I'm going on about then I give up ;-)

Part of the initiation into my Scout troop (and the Scout Association in general) was to take the Scout Promise and adhere to the Scout Law, which reads, as follows:
  1. A Scout is to be trusted.
  2. A Scout is loyal.
  3. A Scout is friendly and considerate.
  4. A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.
  5. A Scout has courage in all difficulties.
  6. A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.
  7. A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.
To me these rules seem like a good template for anyone's attitude to everyday life, no? To be trustworthy, loyal, friendly, considerate, courageous, respectful and careful? Isn't that what we would all like others to be to us?

Now I don't mean to preach but can you imagine anyone who has the above qualities taking part in the looting and rioting that took place last August? Me neither.

The above laws are, obviously, the modern version and are the version that I followed as a Scout myself, but this is a blog about the retrospective life and although I think I've made my point here I thought it might be fun to look at Baden-Powell's original Law as published in "Scouting for Boys":

1.   A SCOUT'S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. If a scout says "On my honour it is so," that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, "I trust you on your honour to do this," the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge and never be allowed to wear it again.
2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL to the King, and to his officers, and to his country, and to his employers. He must stick to them through thick and thin against anyone who is their enemy, or who even talks badly of them.
3. A SCOUT'S DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL AND TO HELP OTHERS. And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure, or comfort, or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, "Which is my duty?" that is, "Which is best for other people?"---and do that one. He must Be Prepared at any time to save life, or to help injured persons. And he must do a good turn to somebody every day.
4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL, AND A BROTHER TO EVERY OTHER SCOUT, NO MATTER TO WHAT SOCIAL CLASS THE OTHER BELONGS. If a scout meets another scout, even though a stranger to him, he must speak to him, and help him in any way that he can, either to carry out the duty he is then doing, or by giving him food, or, as far as possible, anything that he may be in want of. A scout must never be a SNOB. A snob is one who looks down upon another because he is poorer, or who is poor and resents another because he is rich. A scout accepts the other man as he finds him, and makes the best of him -- "Kim," the boy scout, was called by the Indians "Little friend of all the world," and that is the name which every scout should earn for himself.
5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS: That is, he is polite to all—but especially to women and children and old people and invalids, cripples, etc. And he must not take any reward for being helpful or courteous.
6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS. He should save them as far as possible from pain, and should not kill any animal unnecessarily, even if it is only a fly---for it is one of God's creatures.
7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS of his patrol-leader, or scout master without question. Even if he gets an order he does not like, he must do as soldiers and sailors do, he must carry it out all the same because it is his duty; and after he has done it he can come and state any reasons against it: but he must carry out the order at once. That is discipline.
8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES under all circumstances. When he gets an order he should obey it cheerily and readily, not in a slow, hang-dog sort of way. Scouts never grouse at hardships, nor whine at each other, nor swear when put out. When you just miss a train, or some one treads on your favourite corn---not that a scout ought to have such things as corns--- or under any annoying circumstances, you should force yourself to smile at once, and then whistle a tune, and you will be all right. A scout goes about with a smile on and whistling. It cheers him and cheers other people, especially in time of danger, for he keeps it up then all the same. The punishment for swearing or bad language is for each offence a mug of cold water to be poured down the offender's sleeve by the other scouts.
9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY, that is, he saves every penny he can, and puts it in the bank, so that he may have money to keep himself when out of work, and thus not make himself a burden to others; or that he may have money to give away to others when they need it.

Great aren't they?! Not only in the language but in the steadfast stalwartness of the extended explanations of each rule.

I think that No. 4 extends especially nicely into the idea of our little 'Vintage Community'. One of the things I've personally found so nice about going to events and meeting up with fellow enthusiasts, often for the first time, is that they are open, friendly and happy to talk and ALWAYS of the opinion that everyone else is nicer, better dressed and generally more fabulous than they are!

Whenever something major happens to someone else in the 'community' they are happy to rally round and help each other out even though they may never have met 'in-real-life'.

A lovely bevy of ladies at The Chap Olympiad 2012
(courtesy of Penny Dreadful Vintage - although I took it! :-P )

So next time you hear or see someone coming down on the 'Vintage' lifestyle, arguing about what is 'true Vintage' or not or sneering behind someone's back about what they are wearing perhaps you should threaten to poor a mug of cold water down their sleeves! (only joking... that would RUIN their outfit!).

Perhaps, if you can do one thing to be a better person in life, how about trying to 'do a good turn to someone every day' as Baden-Powell suggests?

Or at the very least go about life '...with a smile on and whistling'!


  1. Ha ha ha! I love the idea of a cold cup of water down the sleeves! ha ha!

    Great post!

  2. Really, nice writing ! An emergency whistle is quite a toy; it’s a bit of apparatus that would save your life just in case of emergency. Let’s imagine the subsequent situation: you're ascension a mountain along with your friends and every one of the sharp the world moves below your feet and you disappear during a hidden valley. I found this informatin here


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