A literary journey
Nostalgic Irish prose
Irish culture & folklore
Ulster-Scots short stories
Raise arms, bend knees, face the front and lunge. Pas de bas, pas de bas. Clasp hands. Now spin! Polka two three.
Heads up, hands out, concentrate, and smile!
There we were, twelve girls fluttering across the room in staggered lines, straight lines, canons and in pairs, dancing in painted gutties threaded with satin ribbons with the pitter patter of feet that were uniquely Girls’ Brigade.
‘Attennn shon’ was the signal from Captain Dundee that it was all about to begin. ‘Stand at ease’ followed as hair, hands, navy tunics, red jumpers, white socks and navy knickers were inspected in marks out of ten.
Crafts and scriptures came after P.E., which was less about PE and more about dancing of the ballet, Irish and Highland kind. We clasped our hands for verse speaking, our bodies tilted to the audience, ‘The Awell and the Pooosy caet went to sea in a byooootiful pea-green boat.’ Maze marching was the swinging arms and the criss-crossing of the floor to classical music from a tape in a red ghetto blaster before advancing two-three, retiring two-three, pas de bas and lunge through a swinging skipping rope, a little known life skill that is uniquely Girls’ Brigade.
GB displays came and went with the panic buying of ribbon, the dousing of gutties with whitener and the hair being pulled and brushed and clipped tightly into place.
Later, there was map reading, hiking in the mountains, serving the community, babycare and even ‘How to plan a wedding.’ (It turns out that marrying in a Scottish castle with a Richard Marx song about a girl called Mary was not uniquely Girls’ Brigade.)
The GB invented glamping long before the Middle Class, an indoor adventure in Ayr or Douglas under a sky of electric light in heated church halls. There was an inspection of the bed in the morning and not a whiff of a ging gang goolie campfire at night. It was probably the most excitement you could get in the 1980s for £25.
The GB is still alive and well and although it is a worldwide thing, it is also uniquely Northern Ireland, so raise arms, bend knees, face the front, lunge and please, please whatever you do, don’t tell anyone that I’m now a Scout leader because I can still pas de bas and clasp my hands like it’s 1983!
Snugville Street, Angeline King’s first novel is now available in print and on kindle from Amazon. Click here to buy.
82 Waterloo Road
The Teacher Voice
The Last Day of Summer Scheme
Uniquely Girls' Brigade
The Children of Latharna
The Band Stick
The Bully up the Brae
A dander around Larne
History & folklore
The Protestant in Irish Fiction.
The Protestant in Irish fiction - the novels.
Ulster-Scots in Irish Fiction
The reality of being an author.
Learning the Irish Language.
John Hewitt Summer School