THE BEST MATES LIST

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a friend re­quest on Face­book, Robin Scott eval­u­ates what makes a true friend

Sporting Gun - - PARTING SHOTS -

How many real mates can you count on? You know the sort – true and trusted pals who never blab on so­cial me­dia about what you’ve been get­ting up to, or plan­ning on do­ing? Al­ways there to help when you need a lift, with­out be­ing asked.

A best mate won’t say a word when you leave a house of ill re­pute in the early hours, or knock on the pox doc­tor’s door a week later. Not that I’ve done ei­ther. But I’m sure you get my drift.

Is it pos­si­ble to have more than a hand­ful of real friends? I doubt it. Or maybe I’m the odd one out.

This morn­ing I clicked a Face­book “friend” re­quest only to dis­cover the lady ask­ing is al­ready pals with 435 other folk out there. Which is one hel­luva Christ­mas shop­ping list how­ever you want to look at it! But, friends?

Had the gal not been blonde with long legs and big pos­si­bil­i­ties I would’ve hit the “de­cline” but­ton then and there. In­stead, I’m now 436th in line.

Maybe it’s no co­in­ci­dence, but three of five folk I count as my staunch­est bud­dies shoot, and all fish too. Best of all, bad weather aside, they’ll be here in a day or two for a walked-up shoot to cel­e­brate my (herumpteenth) birth­day.

Maybe we will catch up with a few pheas­ants, or even a duck or two. But it won’t mat­ter if we don’t, it’s al­ways the craic and ban­ter that counts when we get to­gether.

Steve loves shoot­ing birds head­ing my way as much as I rel­ish knock­ing down his. Which is why he pock­ets a few 36g 4s when­ever we shoot, and I al­ways carry 42g 3s…

Rob is still on the best mates list even though he came within a whisker of knock­ing my block off one moon­light flight in Lin­colnshire. We both man­aged a right and left from a skein of greylags; mine fell harm­lessly be­hind, but the sec­ond of his clipped my left lug hole and shoul­der as it whooshed passed and crashed into the ditch I was crouched in. Doesn’t bear think­ing about. Three or four inches to the right and I wouldn’t be friends to­day with that new found blonde with the long legs and no­table as­sets.

Which leaves Martin, a guy who saved the life of my springer, Cassie, on a duck flight-pond 10 or more years ago.

The lit­tle dog got tan­gled up in sub­merged alder tree while pick­ing a pricked mal­lard one freez­ing cold Jan­uary night. Be­fore I’d even started to un­zip my jacket Martin, God bless him, dived straight in and plunged un­der the wa­ter’s sur­face. He was down for a ter­ri­fy­ing eternity, but even­tu­ally freed my bedrag­gled dog – still hold­ing the duck!

Fool­hardy? Yes. But his un­think­ing act of mad­ness earned my undy­ing re­spect and grat­i­tude.

A long time later we talked briefly over a pint in our lo­cal about the swim and Martin sim­ply said: “I did it be­cause I loved that dog more than I do you.”

Which is ex­actly what you’d ex­pect a proper mate to say. Isn’t it?

Three out of the five folk Robin counts as his staunch­est bud­dies shoot, co­in­ci­dence?

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