“Cast a cold eye on life, on death…” (4)

An occasional series of vignettes of the past, drawn from the archives I use.

This is not strictly speaking drawn from an archive, but it is from a relic of the past, and if you have read some of my previous posts you will know that my definition of archives is a broad one.

My sister as a child once bought an old copy of the 1964 Brownie Annual at a jumble sale. At the time of the book’s publication the graded tests for Brownies were called, in ascending order, the Golden Bar, Golden Ladder and Golden Hand. When a Brownie reached the age to move up to Guides, if she had passed her Golden Hand she could make the transition at a special ceremony called “flying up”, which seems to have consisted of her new Guide colleagues picking her up and bearing her bodily from the Brownies’ end of the hall to the Guides’. This annual had the requirements for the Golden Bar, Golden Ladder and Golden Hand printed across its endpapers. Beside each one the girl who had originally owned the book had pencilled “passed”. But beside her “passed” for the Golden Hand she had also written:

I did not fly up beacause (sic) ol’ Kelly said “you were away the day you were to fly up so you can’t.”

So I walked out on it! Without a word.

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