Monday 16 July 2012


Kirsty Ferry

Orange juice and a rich tea biscuit

The Cubs were breaking up for the Summer Holidays. 
Traditionally, the final night of Cubs involved an outdoor games night, but the persistent rain of the last three weeks had negated the use of the field at the back of the hut. It was no longer a field but a mud-bath: and unless they wanted to introduce mud wrestling into the Cub programme, it wasn’t a good idea to play outdoor games. At least, not from the adults’ perspective.
      ‘There’s no option. We’ll have to do Cubs Got Talent,’ said Bob, the Cub leader. He looked around at the boys. It had been rashly mentioned when the rain started, that a Cubs Got Talent show might be a good idea if the bad weather continued. Unfortunately, despite their inability to remember things like homework, family birthdays and important letters from school, some of the boys had actually remembered about the talent show and had therefore come equipped.
      ‘I did warn you,’ said Angela. Angela was Bob’s wife, a primary school teacher who understood young boys. ‘They have a sixth sense for these things. Making noise is high priority on a boy’s to-do list.’
      ‘Bob’s fault,’ muttered Eve, the parent-helper.
      Bob dredged up a pained smiled and looked around again. His eyes settled on Sam. He might as well get this over with. Sam was fairly innocuous; one of the more sensible little chaps in the Cub Pack. ‘Sam, would you like to start?’ Bob asked. Sam nodded and dragged his keyboard to the front of the hall. He did a few scales to warm up and a lone Cub clapped.
     ‘They were scales,’ Sam said, witheringly. ‘No need to clap just then. I am about to start the proper music now.’ He stood, legs crossed in front of the keyboard, and picked out Twinkle Twinkle. He earned a round of messy applause.
      ‘Charlie’s turn!’ beamed Bob. Sam had been fine – Charlie couldn’t be much more difficult, he reasoned. He was a decent Cub as well. Charlie had brought an acoustic guitar and, when he was called up, he grinned at Bob and scraped and bounced the instrument along the floor to the stage area. He hoisted his guitar up and began to pluck out his own version of Twinkle Twinkle. The audience discovered that the scraping and bouncing had seemingly knocked all the strings out of tune. Charlie didn’t have a shoulder strap either, so he bent further forwards with each note, the weight of the guitar and the force of gravity eventually dragging him down. Throughout his recital, he hopped and balanced with his guitar in a strange sort of dance. The final note faded as he ended up bent double, staring at the floor, the guitar inches from the lino.
      Harry was next to take to the stage with his acoustic guitar, and he chose to play Old Macdonald. At least, that’s what he said he was playing. The notes droned out with odd, irregular timing and the Cubs who were trying to sing along gradually stopped trying.
      ‘Would you like another verse?’ Harry asked.
      ‘No thanks,’ said Bob kindly. ‘We’ve got to fit Jake in.’
      Jake was busy setting up his electric guitar and amplifier, making a great deal of noise and fuss about it: he was clearly very proud of it. Some of the boys nodded approvingly and Jake finally settled into a chair. He surveyed his audience, adopted a surly, rocker-type expression and waited for silence. The Cubs watched and waited. Jake strummed a couple of notes then started his rendition.
      ‘Twinkle Twinkle, little star...’ Everyone waited for the Eric Clapton riff at the end. None came. Jake stopped playing and shook back his too long hair. He looked at Bob, challenging him.
      ‘So: who’s the winner?’ asked Jake.
      ‘Yes. Who’s the winner?’ asked Charlie.
      ‘You’ve got to have a winner,’ added Harry. ‘And someone gets voted out.’ The Cubs all nodded.
      ‘Who’s the winner?’ they chorused.
      Bob looked at Eve, panic-stricken. ‘Did we say there would be a winner?’ he muttered.
      ‘I don’t think we even confirmed Cubs Got Talent,’ she whispered. The Cubs began to bay. Bob and Eve felt the panic start to rise. They had angered the Cubs, misled them and failed to manage twenty-four small boys and their relative expectations. It was as bad as Christmas, when the Pack had trapped Eve against the craft table, hollering for more glitter and demanding she cut twenty four snowmen out of fifteen sheets of silver craft paper. And that all the snowmen had to be the same size.
     Luckily for the leaders, a smiling Angela swooped in to the Talent Show melee at that point, carrying a tray of fortifying coffee for the adults. She took in the situation with one practiced, all-encompassing, teacher-like glance. Her smile waivered, but only for a second. She put the tray down and clapped her hands. The Cubs took their eyes off their prey and looked at her instead.
      ‘I say,’ she said, ‘let’s form a rock band! Everyone is just far too good to vote anyone out! Jake, Sam, Charlie – could you all do Jingle Bells together? Like a proper band?’ It was like magic. The portentous atmosphere lifted, and the boys nodded enthusiastically.
      ‘I shall need to study the music first,’ said Sam. Harry put his hand up.
      ‘I don’t know Jingle Bells,’ he said. The memory of the flat Old Macdonald song too raw, Angela nodded at him compassionately.
      ‘That’s OK, Harry,’ she said. ‘You don’t have to do it.’
      The rock band huddled together at the front of the hall. Sam was flanked by the guitarists and Jake was situated sensibly next to his amp.
     ‘Jake, it’s probably best that you stay there and don’t tangle Sam’s legs up with your leads,’ said Angela, simultaneously ensuring that Charlie’s strings had been re-tweaked.
      ‘One, two, three...’ she shouted, when she was finally satisfied. The rock band picked out the notes of Jingle Bells and received a huge cheer. Bob got excited: winners and losers were forgotten amongst the roars of general approval.
      ‘At Christmas, we could do carols!’ Bob said. ‘All the boys who play instruments can bring them in!’ More whoops and cheers from the Cubs, who were stamping their feet in joy by now.
Angela and Eve looked at Bob, pleading silently with him. Big mistake, Bob, they tried to communicate, big mistake. We may not be as lucky next time. Next time, there may be consequences...

Kirsty Ferry won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall national creative writing competition in 2009 and has had work published in various magazines including Ghost Voices, The Weekly News and Peoples' Friend. She has also had a number of short stories published in anthologies including The Best of CafeLit 2011Devils, Demons and Werewolves, Voices of Angels, Fangtales, Mertales and Whitby Abbey Pure Inspiration. Her first novel, a YA paranormal tale set on Hadrian's Wall and entitled The Memory of Snow is now available on Kindle with a paperback version due out soon.

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