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Sunday 25 November 2012

Ready for Anything on Stir Up Sunday

Mary for Poetics at dVerse Poets' Pub has set Preparation as a topic for our endeavours.
Be Prepared,
the Boy Scout motto.
What, I wonder, had
Lord Baden-Powell in mind
in choosing that? For what
should all those small boys
be prepared? Should little Jimmy
on his way to school watch out
leat he be ambushed by some hungry
lion or tiger? flattened by a rhino
charging from the vicar's orchard?
a killer monkey stalking him?

I never was a Boy Scout, didnt fancy
all that stress of constant vigilance.
How can you be prepared for......X?

I had Lord Baden-Powell's brother,
shade or spirit teaching me to drive.
Picture if you can, the scene:
approaching a quiet junction,
not much traffic, nothing going on,
just standing on the corner
waiting for the lights to change,
an innocent pedestrian. Slow down.
Watch him! my teacher says.
Potential suicide! Change down.
He could be psyching himself up
to throw himself in front of you.
Under your front wheels. Slow
down and be prepared! Hear that?
Those very words! To be prepared...

Easy enough to make your preparations
if you know what's coming up on the 
itinerary... let us say you have a long
car journey facing you; there might 
be snow: you'll take a shovel, chains,
a thermos flask, warm blankets, clothes,
maybe your book of prayers for
all occasions -- none of which
will help you if the tiger springs, the man
jumps out in front of you, or tons of rock
fall from a cloudless sky, or you go quietly mad.

A word about Stir Up Sunday, which today is. A traditional day in the church year when all the family gather round to take their turn at stirring the Christmas Pudding. It was a great occasion when I was a child, stirring in the huge bowl with a very large wooden spoon. Best of all was throwing in the silver threepenny bits -- and hoping that one would turn up in your slice on Christmas Day


John (@bookdreamer) said...

Impressed that someone has mentioned stir up Sunday makes us men of a certain age! Loved the play with the scout's motto. I was kicked out of the cubs for being too independently minded!

Sabio Lantz said...

I was a Boy Scout -- no stress of constant vigilance -- lots of fun.
The more skills one learns the more prepared one can be for the variety of situations a life can present. Best preparation is to be friends with those of different skills. But we should have something to offer too -- besides just word. No?

I slow down in busy streets where pedestrians hang mindlessly close to curbs -- coincidentally, I taught my son (12 yo) the same yesterday as he daydreams of preparing to drive. A friend of mine accidentally killed a 4 year old who stepped off a curb into his speeding ambulance. It drove him crazy and 15 years later, he was homeless.

But preparation -- as you, and other poets today hint, can be over-rated. "Tis all a delicate balance of worry and pleasure, eh?

That was a fun readl

Sabio Lantz said...

PS: Typo: "leat" --> "least"

Claudia said...

haha...so good...ya know...you never know if there's a tiger on the way..ha...some people just exaggerate their being prepared...and about the being prepared for being prepared, they miss out on life and spontanity...smiles

Daydreamertoo said...

Exactly. No matter how much we think we're prepared, we can never be prepared for the unexpected, it just happens. Loved all of the imagery in this. Rhino come charging from the vicars orchard and Killer monkey...lol
I remember those Christmas puddings too. Aww...

Mary said...

Good lesson here, Dave. So true here are things you cannot be prepared for....those things that jump at you out of the blue! "Be prepared" only works SOME of the time.

I like the idea of Stir Up Sunday.Is this for real?

Brian Miller said...

ha thanks for the bit on stir up sunday...had never heard of it...was a cub way back in the day....i guess we prepared for what we know and hope in the moments we dont that we have enough thought to make it through....

Laurie Kolp said...

I thought of scouting, too. Interesting perspective. I haven't heard of stir up Sunday, either. Enjoy!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I stirred up my puddings earlier in the week Dave - they are all ready for the big day.

Carl said...

Quite true Dave and a great read to boot.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

"be Prepared" for some reason reminds of King Lear's "Ripeness is All..."
I enjoyed your poem, its energy, its questioning determination.

Anonymous said...

Being prepared is often so pessimistic. My Mom used to say pack a swimsuit cause you never know. That's more my cup of tea.

Victoria said...

This gave me a big smile (I sort of "flunked out" of girl scouts. And, how true...hadn't thought about all the ramifications of preparation. I enjoyed the afternote about Christmas pudding. Did the three coins represent the thre Kings...we used to have that tradition?

A Cuban In London said...

Brilliant read as usual. Especially as I'll be headed to bed in a minute. Your poem brought a smile to my face tonight. I was never a boy scout but in Cuba they taught us the same kind of caution. Be prepared, the enemy might attack us any time. Some of this caution was well-founded. We just had the 50th anniversary of the October Crisis. But a lot of it was hot-air.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Cloudia said...

"What, I wonder, had
Lord Baden-Powell in mind
in choosing that? For what
should all those small boys
be prepared? Should little Jimmy
on his way to school watch out
leat he be ambushed by some hungry
lion or tiger? flattened by a rhino
charging from the vicar's orchard?
a killer monkey stalking him?"

So delightful how your mind works. you might have been a great comedian! Over-scrupulousness is quite a problem for us thoughtful sincere types being raise among typical heedless children at whom the admonitions were really aimed!

You are my sort!

Have a Sweet Week -
Warm Aloha to YOU
from Honolulu
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Helen said...

ah, sweet memories of my girl scout days ... 'be prepared' ~ I don't think I ever took it seriously for a second! After reading this, I can see I should have! A great write, Dave.

haricot said...

I cannot catch up with your sophisticated humour without title aand your explanation later on...I thought it was your drive experience at first...the warmth of your view point is quite comfortable though.

Dave King said...

Hi All!
Thanks as always. I am ever surprised -- I shouldn't be, I know -- by the volume and range of your comments which I find so helpful and supportive. No different this time around. Thank yo once more.

I wasn't sure whow many would know about Stir Up Sunday and the importance it once had -- and, indeed, the fun it gave. Good to have had some feedback on it. I, in my turn, had never come across the idea that three threepennybits were used to represent the three kings. (Why limit it to three, though. Nowhere does the bible say there were only three kings.)

Maybe I should point out that I was not having a go at the Boy Scout tradition or organisation, only its motto, which has always struck me as lacking any real meaning. (Not sure how you can be prepared for the unknown.) It's jungle culture does seem alittle out of step with society now, though. -- But I knew this would be contravertial.

I respond to the thought that being prepared can slip over into pessimism, but I am also reminded of the mum who refused to give permission for her son to have swimming lessons because a gypsy had told her that he would die of drowning. She was not going to give permission until he could swim. I never did solve that one.

And yes, I see the point of Be Prepared in a state of war or expected hostility. I remember how we used to prepare for Hitler's landing during WWII - it was mostly buttressing
our confidence, though. The preparations were pathetic.

I am grateful for the suggestion that I might have been a commedian. Something I never did consider!

Just to clear up any doubt. The learner driver was me. The instructor was my first instructor. He did not last long.