Brownies, school hymns and telling porkies

From what I’ve read recently, I rather like the groovy direction the Brownies and their big sisters, the Guides are being taken in

Share

The Brownies don’t do God.

They used to, when I was the half-hearted seconder of the pixies in a town-centre church hall. Having been brought up without the smallest smidgen of religion, I used to find the pledge (“I promise that I will do my best: to do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country, to help other people and keep the Brownie Guide law”), with its God-and-country business, faintly baffling. As for the bits about serving the Queen, I wasn’t too sure about her, either. Both she and God were grey-haired, grandparent-ish figures in my head, quickly forgotten once we started playing tag and learning how to do blanket stitch by making piglets out of felt. Occasionally, we’d troop into the church next door, which was mildly diverting, except when we had to reach out and hug other parishioners. What was that about?

Now, though, 21st-century Brownies are being let off the God bit. They still have to promise to do their best, but now they have to be true to themselves, to develop their beliefs, to serve the Queen and their community. “We can’t ask the kids to lie,” Gill Slocombe, the Chief Guide, has said, in explanation of the new wording.

From what I’ve read recently, I rather like the groovy direction the Brownies and their big sisters, the Guides are being taken in. The new chief executive of the Girl Guides described it as “the ultimate feminist organisation”. Stirring stuff. But as for not asking the girls to lie? Well, we all have to learn a bit of hypocrisy somewhere. As a non-believer, true, it always felt a bit weird promising to do my duty to someone I didn’t believe in, but then we also had to pretend that a bit of mirror was a pool of water every week.

Brownie meetings are hardly the only places where what you believe and what you do disconnect. On Saturday night, I spent a two out-of-tune hours comparing the songs I had sung at junior school with the ones my stepdaughter does now. Despite the fact she’s Jewish and has friends of many different faiths, they all sing away to the Christian tunes I had to: “Lord of The Dance”, “If I Had A Hammer”, “Give Me Oil In My Lamp”, and, like I did, they snigger at the bit in “When I Needed A Neighbour” when it goes “I was cold, I was naked”. Bums!

Neither of us believe in Jesus but we like a singalong to a catchy tune. So essentially I was, and she is, fibbing every time the hymn books come out. It’s good that the Brownies and Guides are moving with the times, and want to be inclusive, but I’m proud to say they helped make me the hypocrite I am today.

Twitter.com: @rebeccaj

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Supporters of New Democracy wave Greek flags during Antonis Samaras pre-election speech.  

Greece elections: Where does power lie? This is the question that ties the UK to Athens

Steve Richards
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project