Liam, the Boy Scout.


Nathan Curnow, the author, will be at Clunes Booktown Festival on 4-5 May 2019.

Nathan Curnow, the author, will be at Clunes Booktown Festival on 4-5 May 2019.

Delay for a moment, as we did, and I’ll take you to a country town, place you at the entrance of an old Scout Hall on a Saturday afternoon, 

where ladies have set up tables and laid out their stalls with their kids, selling knitwear, soap and not much else to the few who wander in. 

It’s a small market and you’re seen now. Their faces say: few, so few. You’d rather back out and continue on, but enter, don’t be rude. 

Delay, as we did, go all the way in, which isn’t too far at all, pretending there’s something you might buy beneath a portrait of Baden-Powell. 

At the end is a boy in full uniform, sitting at his own card table with nothing but bars of chocolate on top and a note of introduction. 

Liam’s been sitting alone all day so he can get to the Jamboree. He laminated the note that says so - Liam’s not good at explaining. 

He just wants to go, and he’ll sit at that table staring at the ceiling selling few, so few, with only this plan, one that isn’t really working. 

In years to come I wish for him, not failure or disappointment, but a goal like this when the badges are gone and the institution 

he loves has crumbled. A Jamboree goal, whatever his age, the hope of preparation, something worth erecting a table for and the words 

in laminate. Because the fire will only get harder to light, the tools won’t work as they should, and the battle of trusting somebody to come 

will seem pointless to stage and reset. But now you’ve delayed, as we did, now you’ve gone all the way in, I wish this for you too 

in the hall of yourself with no better plan than his, for people to spend whatever they have on someone alone with a reason 

to endeavor, although it may not pay and though the light grows dim.