“Is Mrs Vestibule coming to camp?” asks an Elfin, over the washing-up.
I’m at the other end of the trestle tables, in arm to arm combat with a hefty pan which is coated with industrial quantities of baked bean sauce. So the question is picked up by Brian’s mate, Graham, who has taken a week’s leave from pen-pushing at the Civic Centre to be here, washing dishes in a cold, wet field with the Woodcraft Folk.
“No, she’s afraid of camping.” The entire rota group stops to gawp at this news. As does Sheila.
Flossie came in with the other children, about ten minutes before the end of Meeting. For a while she squirmed on a lap. Then, she wriggled free and crawled across the centre of the Meeting House to the feet of an elderly Quaker. His shoes had enticingly long laces, textured brown leather, solid stitching. It all needed close examination and she stretched out her hand to pull at the lace.
The look on her face was that of pure wonder. For the rest of the Meeting, she was absorbed in exploring the footwear of assorted, obliging Quakers. And we were equally absorbed in watching her.
“Anyone want to choose the next song? … Anyone?”
YoungLochinvar and I look round the circle of Elfins and are met by slightly bemused stares. We have been asked by FellowKnitter to help out with a session singing campfire songs, leading up to the Whitsun camp in Epping Forest. Elfins are the youngest in our local Woodcraft Folk group – ages up to about 7 – and we are looking at a dozen or so of them. They’re a tough audience to get going, that’s for sure. I’m jolly grateful that YoungL has come along with his guitar, as otherwise you’d only be able to hear FellowKnitter and I laying our burdens down and refusing to study war (whatever Mr Gove may say).