Boy scout’s Bob-A-Job blues

South Shields Scouts advertising their annual Bob-a-Job Week.
South Shields Scouts advertising their annual Bob-a-Job Week.

David Rose’s scouting reminiscences got me thinking back to the days of my own times as a cub scout, and in particular Bob-A-Job week.

The annual event involved all the pack going out and about, knocking on people’s doors, seeking work in order to raise funds.

Dressed in our uniforms, we’d go from street to street, offering our services as window cleaners, car cleaners or general tidy-uppers – all for the princely sum of a shilling (that’s five new pence to you young ’uns).

It was an exciting time for us lads, and for the most part, great fun.

Mind you, there was one occasion, when myself and a young mate, found ourselves faced with a task of Herculean proportions.

For after knocking on the door of a very large, grand house (owned by a wealthy businessman) – in the anticipation of earning quite a few bob – we were shown the rear lawn and a rickety old lawn mower, with the instruction to cut the grass.

Now, believe you me, this was a lawn like no other, being the size of several tennis courts long and just as wide.

The push-along lawn mower looked like it had never been sharpened or oiled since it was bought in Victorian times, and so fought us every step of the way.

But unperturbed, we started our task early in the morning, trudging up and down to the rusty rattle of the mower.

Hour after hour passed, and still there was more grass to be cut. The day was hot and sunny, and still in uniform we toiled away, without a drop to drink.

Dinner time came and went, and though our empty stomachs rumbled, we stuck doggedly to our task – hoping for rich rewards.

Eventually, the job was done, the grass was cut ... and we (two 10-year-old lads) were absolutely exhausted.

Still, we’d done what we had promised to do.

So, straightening our woggles, we knocked at the door of the big old house and invited the elderly owner to inspect the results of our efforts.

With a grunt of satisfaction he acknowledged that we’d completed the task (some seven hours of hard toil) and grudgingly handed over our pay – one shilling between the two of us.

Still, the good times more than made up for such a miserly experience, and I remember with fondness the generosity of so many other people, who were happy to support the scouts and all that they stood for.

I’d love to hear about your experiences of Bob A Job week, and any other adventures you may have had during your time with the cubs, the scouts or the many other youth organisations for boys and girls.

Meanwhile, I asked David Rose if he had any more scouting memories to share with readers.

He said: “There were, of course, the normal scouting activities during the weekly meetings, such as playing games, like British Bulldog.

“We also learned crafts, like flags, knots and their purposes, whipping the end of ropes to stop them fraying, how to fly the Union flag and how to haul it up, furled, and unfurl it at the top of the flagpole.

“We also learned about our patrol. Mine, for example, was Badger patrol, so we had to learn all about badgers.

“Other patrols had animal or bird names, but the only other one I really remember was the Seagull patrol.

“Every week was different thanks to the imagination of the scoutmaster and the scouting traditions laid down by Lord Robert Baden-Powell in 1908 with his publication of Scouting For Boys.”