About those ‘secret fire ceremonies’…

Posted by Tim Ireland at November 23, 2011

Category: Scouting

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
9:07 am and is filed
under Scouting.

Well, I managed to keep that secret for over two years, but the jig was up this morning after one of the lads started tweeting at me last night.

[No harm done, mate. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and I should have been clearer about the need for discretion.]

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, for many, many years in my youth I was active in the Scout movement in Australia, and for the past couple of years I have been volunteering as an Assistant Scout Leader here in the UK.

Tim at a 'secret fire ceremony' this time last year

Pardon any of the boring bits in the following. There are some people who will seek to exploit this information for political reasons, as you are probably aware. And we begin on that note…

1. This is why smears by certain Conservatives have been such a cause for alarm. I’m sure I do not need to explain why. It is also a major reason why I am so disappointed in my two local MPs (Anne Milton and Jeremy Hunt) who do know about this and have had it in their power this whole time to reign in their activists (if not their fellow MPs), but have instead chosen to dole out generic and unhelpful advice like “call the police if you have a problem” (Hunt). I am beginning to doubt their commitment to this Big Society concept they’ve been pushing. Or maybe they’d rather I wasn’t part of it.

2. Yes, this is what all those secret fire ceremonies were about. Now you know.

3. It’s also where I disappear to for extended periods each summer. Hey, why lie on a beach when you can dig a latrine?

4. It’s not an ultra-secret. There are even some fellow leaders in my Twitter stream. I met one at a local hustings. (No, not that one.)

5. Can I please ask that we all try to be discreet about the name/location of the troop? Mainly for the sake of other peoples’ privacy. Thanks.

(Note: I’ve greyed-out my ‘gang colours’ in the above picture for this very reason.)

6. Like most people in my position, I will be referring to myself as a ‘scout leader’ most of the time. I ask you to take this for what it is; shorthand. In any troop there can only be one Leader (kind of like Highlander, but with smaller blades and a fold-out can opener) so my official title is ‘Assistant Scout Leader’, but to most people outside the movement this sounds like I’m wearing a pair of training wheels or something, which is probably why so many people use the ‘shorthand’ version. As I plan to. I know it may seem ridiculous to most, but I need this paragraph to head off any pathetic ‘exposé’ regarding my credentials.

7. Some of you will obviously have questions about my being an agnostic. I can think of at least one woman who will want to shout that question from the rooftops as if it is of critical importance. I would like to take the time to articulate my position on this later, but for now, all you need to know is that the Scout Association in the UK acknowledges the difference between an agnostic and an atheist, and they do (quietly) recognise that a skeptic has a valid role to play in the spiritual development of our youth (more). It is a matter I’m happy to discuss, but I wish to take care about what I publish so I can further the progress that’s already been made, without rushing the issue.

8. Our movement needs leaders. (This means YOU, John Q. Skeptic.) I have been hoarding documentation of some really fun projects I’ve been working on, so now the secret is out and there’s no going back, you can expect me to start blogging some of the detail very soon, and being very noisy on the recruitment front in the process.

9. But don’t expect to see any ‘human shield’ photos on this blog. I will be blogging detail about the activities I’m been putting together, not the scouts themselves.

Cheers all. ‘ Dyb dyb dyb’ and all that.


  1. madaxeman says

    OMG! But won't someone please think of the children lol!

    Odd that the Enhanced CRB checks that you will doubtless hold for this role failed to pick up on your former exploits as the terror of Guildford / computer hacker extrodinaire…

    Still, this can be easily explained by the accusations of your past exploits, as indeed so much that your accuser ventures forth with, being utter bullshit…

    • madaxeman says

      I used to be a scout, and don't remember scouting being a particularly religious movement. Maybe my leaders were a bit naff eh?

      • Tim_Ireland says

        Yeah, there's a bit of an unspoken 'don't ask don't tell' culture surrounding the issue that's decades old. I went in wanting to be open about my beliefs.

      • NickPheas says

        When I was a cub, many years ago, the oath included a commitment to do your duty to God and the Queen

        • Tim_Ireland says

          It still does, but there are different versions to take into account differing beliefs and there have been for a while now.

          • @Al__S says

            But what if your belief is that there is no god and that the queen is an inbred manifestation of a corrupt and fundamentally unjust system? The idea of lying whilst taking the promise really doesn't sit comfortably with me.

            I'm actually quite serious here- even though I know that being a leader down here in Cambridge could not possibly be as much fun as being a leader in my old troop (1st Menstrie, 3rd Clackmannanshire)

          • Tim_Ireland says

            I believe in evolution over revolution. I will lobby for reform while paying my dues to the system that sustains me, and that includes my duty to the monarch currently on the books. Also, in my promise, I pledged to do my duty to my Dharma, instead of God, or Allah, or one of many options; it was a pledge that already existed (eg to cover Sikhism) that covered my needs, and I could say the promise and mean it, and fret about something that might be even more inclusive a *bit* further down the track.

            Perfectly suitable word to describe my duty to my fellow man. True, I was pledging to do my duty to my duty to my fellow man, but I’ve searched deep inside my soul and come to terms with the tautology.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Yes, I blogged about the relevant CRB check a while ago (minus details, obv.). Strange it didn't reveal my alleged computer hacking past. https://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2010/11/stal

  2. @CoombsBucket says

    Tim, you might also want to grey out the arm badges showing borough and county as someone within the movement could possibly work out which you're in based on the shape. For example I figured out you're in Surrey (before the reference to Ann Milton) from your county badge.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Will do*, but I'm comfortable with awareness of what region I'm in. Cheers.

      (*In fact, is now done. Ta.)

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