The Jamboree

Soon it will be Middle Day and the residents of Woodlands are preparing for the greatest celebration of the year. Each creature has their place and special role. The youngsters are learning to square dance, with varying degrees of success. The adolescents are priming themselves to welcome in Middle Day with ceremonial drumming. Most other inhabitants are learning the route for the grand procession. The Elders are consulting the wisdom of the trees and D I Mopsus is speaking in tongues. All in all, things are going terribly well. Well almost.
Once again, Miss Bell, the long suffering school teacher, is showing her immense patience whilst teaching 23 young dwellers to square dance. As Woodlands is all inclusive and never discriminates, she is having great problems getting Magdalena, the grass snake, to do-see-do backwards. Firstly, Magdalena was having problems tangling herself up but now they are trying to go faster, she has trapped both the mole twins as well. Agnes Mole thinks this is jolly funny but Angus Mole is having an asthma attack. Cyril, a very helpful beaver cub, has put a paper bag over Angus’s head but unfortunately, this only made Angus pass out. Meanwhile, the Bunny Blossom siblings have decided to improvise and are adding in spontaneous bunny hops and the troupe of barn dancing field mice are ad-libbing and have altered several moves, but as they are the only ones in sequence, Miss Bell has wisely turned a blind eye.
Norman, a rather overweight and very opinionated weasel, has decided that he is in charge of the drumming and is ordering the other adolescents around. Arthur and Gumly, pole cat brothers, were rather enjoying banging the kettle drums but, are now stuck playing the bongos. Norman has put Viktor, a shy water rat, on kettle drums but Viktor hasn’t quite plucked up the courage to make any noise. Sky and Raj, both Hares but not related, have the snare drums. Whilst, Gary, a rabbit, has the bass. Norman himself has taken the cymbals.
The band start playing, or at least walloping their instruments and after a few minutes they find that they are banging in time. As the gang get more confident and excited they start getting faster and faster. Everyone is becoming more and more ecstatic, they are starting to feel a euphoric high. Their ears no longer hearing one individual beat. Their banging reverberates through their bodies. They are no longer mere adolescents. They are warriors marching into battle. Faster and faster and faster, they beat their drums. Norman clashing his cymbal. Viktor bashing the kettle drums, and boy, is he bashing them. With all his might he bangs and bangs and bangs. Suddenly the sound of the others is completely drowned out. All they can hear is the thunderous kettle drums. “Stop” shouts Norman. They all stop, except Viktor. Viktor is oblivious to his surroundings. His body is there but his mind is somewhere far, far away. His banging is stuttering, manic, other worldly. The others are trying to stop him but he is tearing at them to bang his drum. Paws are getting squashed. Gumly is trying to get the drum sticks away for Viktor. Viktor turns bearing his teeth. Madness in his eyes. He stands, scream and runs out of the room.
“Blimey, never seen that before.” Exclaims Gary.
They all turn to each other nervously. “Better go and find Viktor” says Raj, “and shall we keep this to ourselves?” There is total agreement as they file out in search of the freaked out water rat.
Several hours later, they find him hiding down by the stream. Viktor is now very embarrassed at his outburst and has reverted back to his shy self. His friends try to coax him out but he hides behind an old tin can. Reluctantly, he bashes the can as he squeezes past.
“Wow,” says Norman. “That was such a cool sound.”
Viktor looks up and bangs it again. Bang, bang, thump, thump. It’s a quieter sound but the tininess echoes around the inside of the can. Sky and Raj join in. Bang, thump, ping, ping, ping. Norman looks around and finds another tin. Bang, bang, ping, ting. Soon all of the gang are banging away. The sound is harmonious. It resonates dreamily through the trees. All the creatures agree that this is the sound for the jamboree. But, what should they call themselves? They need a cool name. Viktor’s tin can band, suggests Sky, and with a cheer the motion is carried. Viktor beams with pride.
Meles Meles has been in charge of designing and printing the map of the route which she has made fool proof. Unfortunately she has forgotten to show which is the top and which is the bottom. This had led to a few problems with practice walks, although fortunately, all participants seem to have met in the middle.
The Elders are consulting the trees and learning their wisdom, for behind the joviality and fun of the jamboree, there is a very serious side. Mayor Badger leads the Elders and they form a ring around the Gingko tree. The Gingko is the oldest and wisest tree in the woods. Each Elder holds their paw tightly against the trunk and DI Mopsus starts chanting the ancient words of lore. The tree responds and saps trickles over the Elders paws. The Elders lick their paws to absorb the sacred elixir. They all close their eyes and empty their minds so the trees may once more give them the wisdom that they seek. The Elders enter into a dream like trance. Several hours pass and one by one the Elders awaken. They now have knowledge of the future. They must use this knowledge wisely for the future survival of the Woodlands rests in their paws.
The Elders must rest to regain their strength. Tomorrow is the day of the Jamboree.
At the crack of dawn the Woodlands salute is sounded. This is the sign that the adolescents have been excitedly waiting for. They are to start the Jamboree. Proudly they stand side by side with their tin cans. Bang, bang, thump, thump. Bang, bang, thump, thump. They set off marching the route of the procession from finish line to the start. When they arrive at the start they will be greeted by the Elders. Here the Elders will welcome them as adolescents but bestow on them the gift of adulthood. When they lead the Woodland dwellers in the actual procession this afternoon, they will be proper residents with full animal rights.
The youngsters are being fitted out in their square dancing outfits. As Madame de Halloumi was in charge of design, she has co-ordinated the ensemble to match the drapes and decorations, which at this very moment are being festoon in the meeting hall. Bang, bang, ping, ting. Bang, ting, ting, ting. Excited squeals explode from the children as they rush to see the drummers marching towards them. They watch transfixed as the Elders walk to meet the adolescents. Each Elder holding a sacred Gingko leaf and a Chain of Promise. The drummers stop in front of the Elders and kneel before them. DI Mopsus starts speaking in tongues, his voice becoming higher and higher. He then shouts “nowoddals, nowoddals, nowoddals.” The Elders and the adolescents join in “nowoddals, nowoddals, nowoddals.” The Elders reach forward with their paws and place them on the drummers. They then place the Chains of Promise around the new adult’s necks.
The drummers form a straight line and beat the ancient beckoning. This eerie sound resonates through the trees summoning all dwellers to converge. Animals big and small start to gather. Within minutes all are present and the parade can begin.


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