November 8th, 2010

Girl Guide Stories

The Lone Rangers

Not Hi Ho Silver! But ‘lone’ like the ‘Lone Guides’ who for some reason were unable to belong to a company. The last time I wrote about Guiding fiction, I said that my favourite author of Guiding stories was Catherine Christian. She used another pen name, Patience Gilmour, to write four books about Rangers. They are:
Three’s a Company, 1935
Seven Wild Swans, 1936
The Quest of the Wild Swans, 1941
The Cygnets Sail Out, 1943

Years I’ve waited to read these books. That’s because I had it on good authority that they were best read in order and the first one is almost impossible to find. At last a copy came up and I read the lot one after the other. Catherine Christian (1901 – 1985) ran several Guide companies herself and from 1939 – 1945 she edited The Guide so she knew what she was writing about. (She’s also yet another author of books for girls who went to my own old school.) The striking thing about the books she wrote as Patience Gilmour is the seriousness, earnestness even, with which the heroines take their Rangering. At the same time they are aware of the pitfalls of having the wrong attitude. In The Cygnets Sail Out, one character says, ‘not in a spirit of “Here come the Girl Guides to put everything right – and how grateful everybody ought to be to them” – but rather in the spirit of learning from the Guides of that country what needed to be done …’ She was talking about the older girls who trained to help with reconstruction in Europe once the war was over.

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