Pushed the envelope today. OK, I don't even have an envelope, but I watched so many Youtube videos my tablet ran out of charge. Shopping was completed so early we were able to get the bikes out and cycle down to the swimming pool end of the seafront to meet some Scouts.
One of the components of the Community Challenge badge (which you need in order to get the Chief Scouts' Gold Award badge) is volunteering some time doing good works in the community, charity work or helping out on some organized community-friendly event. So a few months ago we all spent a couple of hours cleaning up the seashore with the Southsea Beach Clean team (available on Facebook) and filled a few binbags with stuff that doesn't belong on the beach. That time, I was the only Scout to show up.
Last week, I helped Jofs' work friends clean out and fix up the cricket club on the seafront, making it all nice for the new season. And this week it was beach cleaning again. Rapidly it became obvious we were in the wrong place and we cycled up to the pier where the official Beach Cleaners (including a delegation from Surfers against Sewage - imagine hanging ten in a sea of floaters) had a table and we signed ourselves in and got protective gloves. I also got a dragon grabber (it does not grab dragons, it is a grabber cunningly coloured to look like a dragon) and I refused to hold a binbag of my own because that would cramp my style, which is to march up and down not grabbing dragons, telling everybody what to do, basically to pick up all artefacts that are alien to a littoral zone.
Flynn and Cosmo and Alfie and Matt and OtherMax joined our motley crew of pickers and we set off in an easterly direction. I grabbed litter and transferred it to the binbags held by my minions, and we proceeded sedately past the millions of happy people on the beach. It was definitely Skimpy Summer Skirt Sunday.
We ignored the tomatoes. They are biodegradable. We ignored the rocks, for they are a natural part of the beach and very numerous. We ignored the hundreds of flip-flops, brightly coloured plastic buckets and spades, because they still being used by toddlers, and that would be unfair. But we did pick up the laughing gas canisters, the energy or cider drinks cans (when not still in use), blue string, coffee cups, wet wipes, random bits of plastic and fishing string. The air was thick with the smog of barbecues and nameless cigarettes but the onshore breeze took it away.
I got a fag lighter and plastic Supermans' cape and Jof got a purple Thomas the Tank Engine. She also kept saying to people "I hope you're going to put that in the bin" and I picked up a dead fish and threw it back. Then I found a fish head and found that if you squeezed the grabber you could make the fish head open its mouth. Jof ran away screaming, girls. In the end we got all the way to Coffee Cup (which is where we started the last Beach Clean) and wandered back. I got lots of sun (red arms, and I'm an official redneck) and another 2 hours towards my badge and a chocolate chip ice cream. Cycled home with chocolate all up my face and played Minecraft until Film Night which was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.