It was a weekender involving a couple of patrols from our troop. Chris Peacock, our youngest Scouter, said he'd keep an eye on us and Jon Pearce, our SPL, went along as company for Chris. Chris was the sort of leader who just left us to get on with things on the theory that, as long as he could hear us, at least we weren't dead.
Right, having set the scene, let's get started.
It hadn't happened for two years, that was a good year before I became the Patrol Leader of the Owl Patrol (Silent but Deadly) and now it was just plain embarrassing: my two year record broken. I was captured during a wide game in the Whitethorn Manor woods. It wasn't just that, it was Jeremy, Little Gem, the smallest and newest member of the troop. Little Gem, I just couldn't believe it. Even today I think it was cheating when Paul, the PL of the Otter Patrol (Slippery When Wet) took him under his wing and fooled me like that.
They had a simple capture, I just couldn't believe it, they heard me coming and had separated slightly. I broke cover and saw Paul with his back to me. I took the chance and tried to sneak up behind him to pull the necker that represented his life from where it was hanging on his belt. Before I could even touch it, I felt my own life pulled from behind me. Paul and I both looked round and I saw the grinning midget holding my necker triumphantly aloft.
I stood open mouthed: Little Gem? - - - NOOOO!
From there it was a routine capture: Paul showed Gem how to use a neckerchief to secure my wrists behind me. If you've never had this done to you, you'd be surprised how secure it can be for a short time. Obviously, without my life, the rules required me to surrender; Scout's Honour required it but, once they'd tied me, all bets were off. To make it easier (for them!) Paul removed his necker and blindfolded me with it. (It was against the rules to attack a man who was taking a prisoner to base).
With Little Gem holding one arm and Paul the other, I was taken on the march of shame back to their patrol site. I could hear Tony's astounded voice, "You caught him?"
"Yea, Little Gem got him."
"Yea, you know: the old one-two." gloated a delighted Jeremy whist trying to sound nonchalant.
Obviously I had no idea how many prisoners had been taken but I knew for sure everyone would soon witness my downfall. I hadn't boasted that much - had I?
Each patrol site had two rather useful seats. They were simply lengths of tree trunk about 40 cm in diameter and held in place by four massive metal stakes that had been driven into the ground near the ends of the logs forming two saltire crosses. That left the logs slightly clear of the ground and, over time, minor excavations had been undertaken by persons unknown that allowed (coincidentally, of course) a captured Scout's legs to be slipped underneath them.
I was taken over to what was obviously one of the seats in the Otters' area. I heard a voice in my ear, "Sorry, mate." As I was slid into place, Spike was obviously already in residence. Tying prisoners to the seats was a piece of piss; they ended up seated with their arms pulled over the top of the log and their right arms and their right legs tethered with the same rope and their left limbs likewise. It was up to the captors how merciful they were going to be. In my case, they pulled me so tight that my belly and chest were in intimate contact with oak bark.
Paul explained that, now they had two prisoners, Gem would have to stay on guard. He said that he didn't mind and that he'd go and pick some stinging nettles, "In case they decide to be naughty." He seemed to have forgotten that he still had his "Camp Christening" to look forward to later on. Paul tucked my necker into his belt and returned to the fray.
Spike and I had about half an hour to entertain each other to conversation before the Otters brought a bound and blindfolded Karel to join us, not that we could see him but his Dutch accent was a giveaway. By the time he had joined us in hugging the log, Chris blew the whistle calling the players in.
Neither Spike, a stocky, crew-cut blonde, nor I (the best looking member of the troop - naturally) had heard anything to make us believe that our three fellow Owls had captured any prisoners to exchange for us so we just had to steel ourselves for the inevitable torture that would follow before the Otters released us.
Paul was Smugmaster-in-Chief as he called his patrol to the alert in front of their prisoners (especially me - you can always tell who your mates are!) Even my APL, Vinny, seemed to be delighted that I had been captured at last. Had I really boasted that much?
The Otters went into conference. They decided that Little Gem should have the honour of torturing me. That was fair enough; after all, he'd "killed" me but I thought it was a bit much when Paul invited Vinny to join in. At least he declined. Karel and Spike were allocated two executioners each and, once our blindfolds - and our footwear - had been removed, three Owls were subject to a prolonged bout of foot tickling. Obviously Paul thought he ought to help Jeremy. Oak bark never makes the most comfortable surface against which to have convulsions and I was grateful for my t-shirt while I suffered a world-class ticking over about ten minutes while the rest of the Owls got the brew on.
It was only the allure of tea and biscuits that called our torturers off. Needless to say, we were not offered refreshment while our futures were debated.
After their break, the rest of the Owls were told they could free us while the Otters jumped Little Gem (Just as if it was planned!) and forced him to the ground. He had a lot to learn but at least he'd only have to go through his Camp Christening once. By the time Spike and Karel had been freed from the immovable log, Jeremy had been stripped down to garish but rather skimpy swim briefs, his precautionary underwear of choice. The peace was well and truly shattered.
By now I was getting suspicious. "Come on, lads, untie me too." Vinny moved in, he had something to explain to me. Put simply it was that, because they'd had no excuse to torture me for about two years, it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity they now had. Another voice shattered the peace.
In spite of my protests, I knew they would be in vain and, once my wrists had been untied, and two of my "friends" held onto my ankles, I pulled my t-shirt over my head and unzipped my jeans upon instruction. Paul slipped his hands under my armpits and slipped me both from out under the log and out of my jeans as his co-conspirators held onto their legs.
Of course, I hadn't worn any precautionary underwear, had I? After all, I wasn't going to get captured, was I? Those light blue briefs with the string side panels were never going to be the most discrete garment I had ever been stripped down to.
Resistance was futile and I had soon been tied to a slim but sturdy sapling by the members of my own patrol. Little Gem was tied similarly to a nearby tree. We were both forced to kneel with our ankles and our wrists tied behind the trees and our elbows drawn back strictly as well. We couldn't sit and couldn't close our knees. Unlike Jeremy, I knew what was about to happen. Oh, well, in the face of injustice, what has pride got to do with anything?
"Chris, Chris, they're going to torture me twice. It's not fair."
In about a minute Jon came into sight. "Chris says no jam because of all the jaspers." The others started grumbling. "You'll just have to use shoe polish and toothpaste on 'em and there's plen'y a' mud down by the river."
"Thanks, - - - friend!"
"Oh and Chris is trying to catch up on his reading. He says would you keep them quiet, please." Vinny suddenly cheered up and I saw my grinning APL approaching with my necker and it had a thick knot in it . . .
I'm told that such activities are frowned on by modern Scouters but that happened in the early 'seventies and this is now.
Word count 1498 including title