Friday, 24 April 2009

The Bright Lights of the West Midlands

I was sitting around this afternoon, gloomy, trying to think of something to do. I'd been reading about the judging of the 2006 Turner Prize and thinking about art, but I was fed up of this and restless. I thought about going into town - doing a few charity shops, having a coffee - but this made me feel miserable; it's a small, dull town and I sat around there yesterday. I thought about going out to the fields after a rabbit but I couldn't find a lot of enthusiasm; I've become a lazy, chain-smoking slob, my backside glued to a chair.

Town? No. Smoke another pipe? No.

Lying in a field, my head reeling from the snuff I'd had before leaving the house; a breezy day, fitful sunshine on the field; butterflies on the grass in front of me; a hawk slowly descends to a fencepost across the field. I wish I knew what kind of hawk; dirty great thing - majestic. It flies away - but I keep hearing a strange, hoarse, double shriek and I wonder if this is its cry. Time passes and a Heron coasts overhead towards the stream at the end of the field. I'm thinking about the artist Richard Long and his documented walks in the countryside; I'm wondering if lying motionless in a field with a gun is a work of art. I haven't been to art college, so the answer is probably 'no': it's not art unless you've been to an art college and you say 'This? This is art'.

No rabbits and I'm feeling no confidence in the place so I get up. The cows are safely corralled in another field. I make for the abandoned orchard in the middle of the land and sit beside a dead tree with my rifle propped on a old fence post. Nothing happens. I shift and, through a hole in the trunk of the tree, see a rabbit lying stretched out in the grass. I poke the rifle through the gap and try a shot: it misses - the rabbit runs away.

I go back to the fence-post and wait. A rabbit appears forty yards away - too far for a shot. It hops ten yards closer so I line up the sights on it - feeling no confidence that I'll hit - and I miss. The rabbit doesn't run away though, it waits - and then it hops even closer. I re-load and take another shot. This one hits: the rabbit jumps up and then falls back. I jump the fence and make for it - but it's still twitching, so I pick it up by the back legs and - quickly - break its neck. I look at the head but I can't see the entry point - there's no blood. There's no head wound at all: I've missed the head by an inch and shot it through the shoulder. A poor shot; perhaps I need to zero in the sights again? Maybe so.

I walk home much happier than I was on the way to the field. After I've sorted the rabbit out on the tree stump beside my flat, I chat with my neighbour and he shows me the race-tuned Ducati he has in his garage. It's a beautiful bike and I'm very happy to be talking with him about his racing career. I think about soaking the rabbit overnight - but I'm hungry and there's nothing to eat in the flat. It's a young rabbit so I decide to make a stew with what I've got in the fridge - onions, a sweet potato, some blotched and flexible carrots - and eat it tonight.

Over and out. (Piece ends.)


  1. HH,

    It is high time you double check your sights. Air rifles are notorious for: 1) Tearing the guts of a scopes up, though that doesn't happen much anymore, and 2) making scopes slip in their mounts!

    Of course a little too much nicotine in the system might make your trigger finger a little twitchy...

    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
    The Range Reviews: Tactical.
    Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

  2. I think you're right, Albert. I do seem to lose the zero pretty quickly. I'll get on it.

  3. 2004?

    You time travelling now Hub Hub?

  4. Oh yeah. Weird. Duly amended. Thanks.

  5. I got an RSS of your 'vegan in a donkey jacket' post and then it was gone. Please put it back up

  6. Hiya SBW,

    I think I was having a bit of a pomposity fugue when I wrote that one - so I pulled it back. I'm trying to re-write it, so it might find its way back (soonish). Cheers for the interest, though!