Friday, 3 September 2010
...with a new toy I got in the post today (courtesy of a well-know online auction site).
I spent a while over the summer talking with a traveller bloke who was doing some 'community service' ('...So I said to the copper, "If you take these handcuffs off me I'm going to hit you." He took the handcuffs off me - so I hit him.'). He did a lot of hunting & fishing for food and he and I hit it off a little by talking about this together - and I really learned some things from him.
For one, I think he was quite genuinely surprised when I said that I took a knife with me when I went out hunting rabbits. 'Gut them? No, no, I don't do that, I squeeze all the innards out through the arsehole. I pick them up by the front legs, press down with my thumb on the belly and push it all out. I can't do it as fast as my dad, mind. My dad can do it in a second. Unbelievable, my dad is...'. But what about eating the liver and the kidneys, I asked? 'No,' he said, 'I don't do that,' and he wrinkled his nose in disgust.
He told me that he'd often go out with just his catapult and that he'd been using it since he was a boy. He'd learned to use it by going out with his father when they were all working together picking crops down south in the summer; they'd get wood pigeon, rabbits - even the odd duck - and put it all in a cooking pot outside with peas and potatoes from the farm.
It's easy for me - very easy - to imagine that I can pick up this kind of skill by just wanting to; it's a romanticism that I'm an easy prey for. Probably, for myself, I'll just end up using it to ping a few pebbles down the railway track at the bottom of the road. I know that there's a giant learning curve with catapults before you can become even remotely accurate with them. That being said, there were a couple of times in the summer, walking up the back lanes into the hilly farmland nearby, when a pheasant would pop out through a hedge in front of me and all I could do each time was watch them scurry away while I wished I had something useful to hand...