In a bid to update its image, the Scouting movement has taken the radical step of replacing old-style sew-on merit badges with a far more modern system of permanent and disfiguring tattoos.
‘This is all about embracing the now,’ argued a branding consultant today. ‘Tattoos are very urban decay, very dangerous and a little bit Jean-Paul Gaultier. That’s a place the Scouts really wants to be.’
The idea originated in Her Majesty’s prisons, where Baden-Powell’s ‘Scouting for Boys’ continues to be the most-requested library book. Inmates have long used tattoos to recognise excellence in heroin dealing, mobile phone ‘cavity smuggling’ and nonce-beating – the ‘badge’ for the latter depicting a scout leader tied to a campfire spit using traditional bowline and sheepshank knots.