Thursday, 10 September 2009

Strictly Cookies

Today Strictly Guiding plays host to a guest blogger - Mike Harling of Postcards From Across The Pond, who is on a Kindness of Strangers tour.
Answers/ripostes to Mike's questions/merciless mick-taking of Guiding will be included at the end.


The Tour - Part II - is gaining momentum now. I left Lulu in London and am now in the west midlands with Jen and her Girl Guide troop. Is that what you call Girl Scouts over here?

I was a Boy Scout when growing up in America. I was recruited early, starting out at the Bobcat level and working my way up to Life Scout. In my ten-year career, I managed to fall just short of achieving the acclaimed Eagle Scout rank, thereby setting the “slacker” tone that has pretty much been the theme of my life ever since.

On the up side, I learned to throw a tomahawk and tie a proper hangman’s noose, so all in all, I’d say the experience leaned more toward the positive side.

I was 47 when I moved to England, and therefore have not tapped into the Scouting movement here. Since America’s Scouting movement was derived from Britain’s Scouting movement, I assume you have one but, like the school system, its nuances continue to elude me. Are Bluebirds involved? Do you have Brownies? And what are Girl Guides; are they the ladies I see in London holding up umbrellas and being followed by 273 Japanese tourists with Nikon cameras?

I don’t know for certain, but if I had to guess I’d say you don’t have any Girl Scouts over here, based solely on the fact that I have never been button-holed by a colleague trying to guilt-trip me into buying a load of overpriced cookies. In the States, Scouts and cookies (of the girl variety) go together like a McDonald’s Happy Meal and a McDonald’s drive thru—you can’t have one without the other. So if my friends and workmates aren’t pimping their daughter’s yearly cookie drives, then you can’t have Girl Scouts over here. Not real ones, anyway.

Be that as it may, Jen and her troop are taking me on a mini-tour of the West Midlands this afternoon. The young ladies are apparently keen to show me all the good things their area of England has to offer and are preparing pithy, historical speeches for a dozen or so places of interest; I think it’s a requirement for their Blue Badge Tourist Guide merit badge. At any rate, it should be fun, and if I am wrong about there not being Girl Scouts in Britain, I apologize.

And I’ll take a box of Peanut Butter Crunches and two packs of Thin Mints.


Visit the Tour Page to view the latest Tour updates.

Michael Harling is the author of

“Postcards From Across the Pond – dispatches from an accidental expat”

“Laugh out loud funny regardless of which side of the pond you call home. Bill Bryson move over, there’s a new American expat in town with a keen sense of humor.”

-- Jeff Yeager, author of “The Ultimate Cheapskate”


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For Mike, and anyone else:
We have Rainbow Guides (age 4 or 5-7), Brownie Guides (age 7-10), Guides (age 10-14) and Senior Section (age 14-25) plus adult leaders, unit helpers and Trefoil Guild.

The only Girl Scouts over here are on USAF bases, so no, we don't have Girl Scouts. But on the plus side, we also don't have cookies - we take subs (between £1 and £2.50 a week depending on area and particularly the rent for the venue you meet in) and we use those to pay for meetings, then we ask parents for money for extra trips when we can't cover it from subs - so parents can choose which trips their daughters go on and pay, rather than raise $200 through cookies then find their daughter can't attend whatever trip it was anyway. From hearing the grief cookies cause leaders and parents over in the US and Canada, I am very glad we don't do cookies here.

But if you want us to sell you a packet of Sainsbury's biscuits at a marked up price during our tour of the West Midlands, we'd be happy to. That'll be £5 as we pass Shakespeare's birthplace, another £5 as you marvel at the joys of Birmingham and £2.20 as we leave you on the side of the M6, thumbing a lift to your next destination.


MikeH said...

Jen, thanks for hosting me, and thanks for the Girl Guide primer. At least now I know why there are no Girl Scout cookies here ;)

Kelloggsville said...

I saw Brownie biscuits sold in a supermarket here - I wouldn't buy on point of principle - this is NOT America!!!!

A Modern Mother said...

I came over to say hello and say an old friend. I love Mike. Hi Mike!

alison said...

I think that Girl Guides/Scouts should investigate alternate product-marketing ideas. I, for one, might be well-disposed towards purchasing Girl Guide beer.

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