Seems it’s time to KBO, yet again!
(Not to be confused with KYBO; another acronym that still awakens torrid, visceral dread; almost four decades since my Boy Scout days).
But back to the point. KBO is a cherished contraction that I’ve not used here for some time. It comes from Winston Churchill, who was said to end conversations with this gruff, thee-letter exclamation: KBO! Keep Buggering On.
(Now, there’s an odd connection: Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, isn’t so far removed from Sir Winston Churchill. Same country, similar era, similar acronym!)
Back to the point: KBO. I’m so attracted to this gritty, determined epithet. These three letters contain a wonderful, resolute courage that I would like to emulate. And it seems that the time is coming, once again, to KBO. Uncooperative hands are nothing new, I wrote about them as far back as mid 2010. But I can’t recall a full day of disobliging dexterity; not like today. I’ll spare you the gory details; suffice to say that it’s arms, biceps and triceps, rather than hands alone that are now giving me grief.
(The first KYBO [pronounced as a single word: “k-eye-bo”] I had the misfortune to encounter as a tender young Boy Scout was a single-trench model. Picture a twelve foot long ditch, six foot deep, surmounted by a sparse array of rough poles lashed together with hemp rope, around which some hessian has been vaguely wrapped. One pole is suspended horizontally about five feet above the trench; and on this pole Boy Scouts were expected to somehow balance with the aid of a couple more horizontal poles and… KYBO! …… )
Back to the point. Losing mobility is a challenge, but with good old Bugger it’s been manageable, in fact sometimes it’s quite an adventure. Voice loss is trickier to deal with, the solutions are much harder to find, but it can be done. But arms? I know I’d rather think about something else.
(I can tell you’re just not getting this, so I will spell it out: KYBO, Keep Your Bowels Open. These days such psychological brutality would not be allowed; there would be an induction course for innocent Boy Scouts before they were subjected to the KYBO. Or in our modern, lacklustre world a row of Port-A-Loos instead).
Back to the point. I can’t type this evening. (Well, I can, but it’s not worth the pain). I’ve written this whole essay without touching a key. I’ve been experimenting with a programme called “Dasher” for some time; more out interest than necessity. It’s like an infinite series of alphabets, a new one opening after every selected letter. Apparently a competent user can match a modest typing speed, but I’m nowhere near that yet.
(Thinking back, it wasn’t only the KYBO that traumatised my fledgling Boy Scout mind. One morning on that same, fateful Jamboree weekend, I witnessed a small pack of rogue Scouts sneak up on a Boy’s Brigade KYBO and pull out it’s tent pegs, then rapidly stuff its ropes, its blue plastic walls and its occupant down the hole! No word of a lie. I had nightmares for months.)
But back to the point. I don’t know which is worse: childhood memories of the KYBO, or the current pressing issue of life sans arms.
(Who was the bright spark that stuck a Boy’s Brigade camp next door to a couple of hundred blood-thirsty Boy Scouts? It’s not called a Pack for nothing!)
It’s not exactly fear that I feel as I look ahead, wondering how I could live without arms; although I can’t deny fear is there. It’s more of a leaden resignation to what seems almost inevitable. There is no urgent emotion attached to this grim vision. Perhaps that’s because I’ve learned in three years that life goes on. And so far, at least, it’s gone very well indeed.
(The colours of 2nd Mosman were red and yellow; I’ve still got my scarf! Over time I learned to taunt the younger, wide-eyed, Scouts; uninitiated and fresh from Cubs. Huddled around a camp fire, pitch black night behind us, spooky noises aplenty, we would tell the nervous juniors that red and yellow stood for “Blood & Guts”. Everyone gets their baptism in fear, one way or another!)