Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Food for thought!

Today I went into Manchester to meet some friends for lunch. We do this every four to six weeks. We have some nice food and catch up with each others' rather less busy than they used to be lives. As my tram made its way into Manchester, a group of women with a baby came and sat near me. I chatted to them about the baby, a pretty, solemn child of about eleven months old. They were a group of Asian women, the older woman wearing the headscarf, the younger women bare-headed and carefully made-up. They spoke a mix of English, the two younger women to each other, and whichever was their Asian language, in conversations between the older woman and the younger. They spoke both to the baby. The mother of the child spent a good deal of time taking selfies, sometimes with the child, sometimes without. Pride in your baby and the desire to put the photos out there is multicultural.

I met my friends and we decided to go to Jamie Oliver's restaurant. Both my friends have loyalty cards, or Jamie's Club cards, or something of that nature: a gold card which gives certain privileges. One of these is a free glass of prosecco for everyone at the table of the cardholder. And a free tiny starter. All good! It's just as well the prosecco was free. When we asked for our bill we found that they had in fact charged us for it. At just over £5 a glass, we felt that we had to remind them of our entitlement. No problem! And the food was very nice, as you might expect from Mr Oliver's establishment!

And so, after a stroll along Market Street we began to wend our way homewards, one on a tram towards Altrincham and two of us on the one bound for Oldham and Shaw. At the tram stop, the same group of ladies with the baby were waiting to make their way home as well. They greeted me like an old friend. The baby had had a thoroughly enjoyable first trip to Manchester. And the mother continued to take a further batch of selfies most of the way back to Westwood, where they got off the tram.

During our journey my friend was trying to get through to her daughter on the phone and, failing that, to her husband. She had just remembered that it was Wednesday and that the complicated arrangements for collecting her grandchildren from various after-school activities had not been confirmed. The ten-year-old needed to be taken to and from gymnastics whole the younger twins, after French club, had swimming at an entirely different venue. And the times overlapped. And everything got complicated. This is the kind of difficult life young mothers have to deal with in the modern world!

In the end, it transpired that nobody was going to French club, swimming or gymnastics because they were all having a quick bit to eat and then going to church. On a Wednesday? And not Ash Wednesday either! Pancake Tuesday, sorry, Shrove Tuesday, is next week! All I found out was that today is Thinking Day. I didn't have a chance to ask for any more explanation as we had reached my tram stop and so I googled it.

It turns out to be a Baden-Powell related thing. World Thinking Day, which used to be just Thinking Day, is celebrated every year of the 22 of February by all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Mysteriously, my information told me: "It is also celebrated by Scout and Guide organizations and some boy-oriented associations around the world". (Not Boy Scout organisations, please note. Boys have "Scouts" while girls have "Girl Scouts"!) They are supposed to think about their "sisters" (and presumably "brothers") everywhere, the meaning of Guiding, and its global impact. A theme is chosen each year and donations are collected to help Girl guides and scouts all over the world.

So why the 22nd of February? Because it was the birthday of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, who started the whole scouting business" and his wife, "Lady Olave Baden-Powell. Some people call it Founders' Day.

This year's theme is "Let's Grow". This is what their website said, "In 2017, we would like to grow the World Thinking Day celebrations, and invite more girls and young women around the world to experience what it means to be part of the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement! TheWorld Thinking Day Challenge for 2017 will be a journey of growth, supporting Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting groups as we introduce our Movement to new members.

So now we know!

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