WHO WOULD YOU RATHER BE SHOOTING WITH AT CHRISTMAS? Shooting time is family time
Iam a singularly lucky man. I have an understanding wife, a job that has allowed me to drive other people’s extremely expensive cars as if I’d stolen them and I am surrounded by clever, funny and kind people who make me think, make me laugh and gently put my ego back together after having dismantled it. Yet one of the things I count myself luckiest to have experienced is taking my son shooting at Christmas.
When the term ends and my boy comes home, he sleeps, he eats three times his own bodyweight of his mother’s cooking, and we start looking forward to going shooting together. This isn’t entirely true as he also disappears for three days solid to reacquaint himself with his Xbox.
It’s easy to crack a couple of mother-in-law jokes, say that guests are like fish and start smelling after a few days and therefore we should all disappear at the first opportunity to the next county for a spot of shooting away from the fights over the remote control. However, it is, extremely difficult to do it with the wit, panache and subtle references to obscure works of Victorian literary criticism that Mr Catchpole will no doubt be demonstrating across the page. But — and here’s the serious bit — shooting is and always has been about family, and at Christmas above all others.
I took every opportunity to go shooting with my father, first as a beater and latterly as a fellow Guns. A great many of the happiest memories of my childhood are of us half-freezing to death in various Cambridgeshire fields waiting for the occasional pheasant to hop over a hedge. Now, I can take my son along to half-freeze to death in various Lancastrian fields, with a few more pheasants around, many of which are flying at considerably higher altitudes. The concept is the same, and is no less important to me as I have come to realise it must have been to my father. I pray that, in 20 or so years, my son can take his own children to half-freeze to death waiting for some pheasants to hove into view.