Back in the game
Robin Scott’s inherited 12-bore hadn’t fired a shot in more than 45 years. But old guns have many tales to tell and, in some cases, more glory to bestow upon their new owner
Dad always told me “never look back; least of all go back.” He reckoned it always led to disappointment. Now he’s gone, I understand what he was getting at: people and places change, and often not for the better. Yet I’m fairly sure his doctrine didn’t extend to guns, or fishing tackle.
No matter how hard I try I can’t help but get a tad nostalgic whenever I cast a fly with one of his split cane rods, or look at his gun in the cabinet. It was his dad who bought it sometime in the late 19th century from a gun shop close to where he lived at the time — William Calder of Aberdeen.
I’d like to say it is a fine quality heirloom. It isn’t. This back-actioned sidelock nonejector was probably built in Birmingham and stamped with the Calder name on the top rib. For all I know, as well as guns and ammo, Billy C also sold coal, fish and fresh veg to passing Aberdonians. Few records of him exist.
An honest gun
Yet it doesn’t really matter who crafted the action, locks and barrels: when all is said and done it is an honestly made gun, lacking frills, but robust and nicely balanced. Best of all, Granddad learnt to shoot with it, so did dear old Dad, and then me. Oh, and Dad’s elder sister, Rosemary. Back in the war the family ran a market town hotel with Rosie responsible for the daily upkeep of the bedrooms and linen closet. To which Dad’s pet tom cat was drawn like a magnet, and always left a visiting card. Aunt Rosemary hated the animal with a passion, but nobody believed her when she said she’d shoot “the bloody thing” given a chance. Then one day it happened. No sooner had the cat sprayed against a pile of freshly laundered sheets than it was chased downstairs, and into the orchard, by Auntie. Sadly for Tom, in among the mayhem Rosemary spotted Granddad’s gun propped by the kitchen door, grabbed a cartridge off the table, stuffed
“instead of fruit, visitors brought him cartridges”