As I mentioned a few months back finding all my old Brownie and Guide badges ended up sending me on a bit of a journey back in time as I remembered more and more about what it was like being in the Brownies and Guides in the 1980s. One major part of this has been getting hold of a copy of The Brownie Guide Handbook version that I had at the time and boy has that proven to be a fascinating read!
As a child I was obsessed with this book. It covered everything I wanted to know, not only about the Brownies and how to achieve all the badges that I so desperately wanted on my uniform, but also various other random things that they obviously though young girls should know.
Amazingly there is a whole page on why you should cut your finger nails and not bite them. A whole page. One that even came with a picture of some of the Six emblems cutting the grass as they compare human nails to grass, as both often need cutting. It’s so old fashioned and quaint and I can’t imagine a book today including something similar, but as a young girl I thought reading about this kind of thing was so grown up. Nowadays children probably want to read all about make-up instead of something as boring as cutting your nails.
My real obsession though was badges. Whenever we did parades in the local park with other units I was always looking at how many badges other girls had on their uniforms and wanted to know how I could get more to sew on mine. This book became like a bible for me – it had full details of all the badges that you could get and exactly what was needed for all the interest badges. I never did earn that many, but as I lay in bed at night I was always trying to work out what I could do to get the next one.
Some of the language used when describing what Brownies can do to help others and serve their Queen is hilariously old fashioned, the particular gem really stands out:
“Now you are going to have another chance to serve the Queen. It is worrying to her that so many of her subjects have accidents and that the doctors and nurses are overworked.”
Without meaning to question the compassion of Her Majesty I have to say that I don’t quite imagine her sitting there thinking about what Brownies could do to help prevent household accidents and hence reduce the strain on the NHS, but then again maybe she was back in the 80s?
Were you in the Brownies or Guides back in the 80s? If so, what do you remember from that time?