If anyone deserves the Duke's award, it's me

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The Independent Online

Continuing this week's series of summer stories, today we bring you an adventure tale for boys, entitled The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Vernon was dropped off by his course tutors in a large wood in the Mendips. He was given enough food for three days. He already had the maps, and compass, and survival kit, and all that stuff.

"You know what to do, don't you?" said the chief tutor, the one who did all the talking. "Or you want me to go over it all again?"

"No," said Vernon. "I know what to do."

"Weather is said to be pretty good for the rest of the week," said the trainer.

"I'll be fine," said Vernon. "You can leave me now."

"OK," said the trainer. "If you remember all we have taught you about survival, you'll be fine. Good luck, Vernon."

Vernon waited till the noise of the van had gone, then struck off into the woods. A mile or so further on he came to a clearing marked Official Picnic Area. There were four or five cars parked in the car park. One of them look just the kind he wanted. He made sure there was nobody within a hundred yards of him, then went to work on the lock. It didn't take long. He open the car boot, put his stuff in and got the ignition working. He was vaguely aware of people running out of the trees and shouting as he drove off...

The obvious way to drive to London was down the motorway, so he didn't go by motorway. One of the more interesting parts of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme was the sessions he had spent at the local head police station, where they had droned on about the jury system but had also taught them some very neat stuff about crime and crime detection. One thing he had learnt was that main roads were really geared up for stolen car detection. Back roads weren't. So he drove to London on back roads until he got to a tube station, then dumped the car and bought an underground ticket. He sat in the carriage, eating the fruit bar given him in the Mendips.

"What's that man eating ?" said a small child.

"It's just junk food," said the mother.

Vernon thought that his trainer would be very sad to hear his healthy fruit/nut bar so dismissed. He got off at Green Park. It was dark already. He walked across the park to Buckingham Palace, and stood staring in through the railings for a moment. When he retreated, he had left something very small stuck to the railings which had not been there before. It was a limpet shell, due to go off in 15 minutes time.

Fifteen minutes later, there was a large explosion at the front of Buckingham Palace, and all the security people rushed to see what it was. By this time Vernon was round the back, and in the confusion he scaled the wall unnoticed. From there to the Duke of Edinburgh's study it was but a short journey.

"Very good," said the Duke. "Not many of you chaps make it this far. And not all of you make the right room. Not like that fellow, what was his name, ended up in the Queen's bedroom."

"Oh, yes," said Vernon. "What was his name. Everyone said he was an interloper. Only a few of us realised he was actually doing a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme."

"He had the sense to keep his mouth shut," said the Duke. "Good lad. I got him a special award for that. Now, as for you, what's your name...? "

"Vernon," said Vernon.

"Vernon, you have done exceptionally well. You've got as near to the Duke of Edinburgh as is possible to get. Now, bugger off."

"If I get caught on the way out, will you vouch for me?"

"Will I buggery," said the Duke.

"Then I will stay here for the rest of the night."

"Will you buggery," said the Duke. "Off with you!"

"Sir, I have gone through hell and high water over three days for your award...! "

"I have been married to the Queen for over 50 years," said the Duke. "If anyone deserves a Duke of Edinburgh award, it's the Duke of Edinburgh. Now buzz off, Vernon."

Another summer story tomorrow!

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