The Quintessence Of Scoutmasters

A snippet from Memoirs Of A Public Baby by Philip O’Connor:

The hut on the hill was in a fairly detached part of a holiday camp, the most “select” of several on this hill in Surrey. The signs of this selectiveness were the wide spaces between the huts; their decorum in colour and lack of fantasy in architecture; and the absence of radios (though the loudspeaker was still young), and the quality and size of the cars arriving at week-ends; and the good-quality plus-fours of the younger set. They were, in fact, of the class most disliked by my guardian, mostly prosperous shopkeepers, with a sprinkling of teachers, whom he also didn’t like. It fairly pleased him not to like anyone in the camp except a certain scoutmaster. This was the quintessence of scoutmasters, and I feel certain he came from Roehampton, because of a particular greenhouse wildness in his appearance (I caught him acquiring a tropical tan artfully behind a bush once). He liked to stand most erect on the brow of the plateau and scan the horizon, eyes narrowed, ready, I believe, for eventualities.

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