Beauty and Squalor Side by Side in the Holiday Isle
Paisley Scouts’ Memorable Visit to Corsica
[First published Paisley Daily Express, Weds, August 29, 1962]
Outlined dimly against the early-morning sky, the island of Corsica lay before us, rugged and dark. As we watched, the sun illuminated the topmost peaks, and the light quickly moved down to sea-level, revealing more and more of the island we had travelled 1200 miles to visit. With the steamer gliding slowly into Ajaccio harbour, the twelve of us in the party - eleven from the 7th Paisley (John Neilson) and one from the 18th (Coats’ Memorial) Scout Troup - breathed an audible sigh of relief, and reflected on the five days of travelling behind us...
We had left Paisley by Starlight Special on Friday, August 3 - to the “Good luck!” of a small crowd of well-wishers and the skirl of the pipes - and arrived in London shortly after 8 o’clock the following morning. After leaving the rucksacks at the new Scout hostel, Baden-Powell House - and noting with pleasure that it was being used, as B.P. himself would have wished, as a meeting place for Scouts from all over the world - we spent the Saturday in London, and left from Victoria on the 9 pm train for Newhaven. The Channel crossing to Dieppe was uneventful, and we were soon speeding through the darkness towards Paris, which we reached at 6.15 am.
After breakfast we visited the Elysee Palace, residence of President de Gaulle, and were followed round the block by two conscientious members of the Garde Republicain, armed with sub-machine guns. Two bus-loads of troops and a riot-wagon also lay handy. Paris is a lovely city: but, seen on an overcast day through eyes half-closed with sleep, it tends to lose some of its romantic appeal. Three of us, in fact, spend the afternoon on British soil - or rather, British carpets - in the British Embassy, explaining about a lost passport and having an emergency one made out.