With a shotgun in your arms you can be at peace

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold

Share
Related Topics
Welcome to our merry band of men, sirrah! This was my first - characteristically generous - thought upon hearing that my future liege, Prince William, had bagged his very first stag.

Might I indulge in a short trip down Memory Lane? I suppose my first successful shoot was when I was eight or nine years of age. My father placed a shotgun in my arms and told me to have a pot at whatever took my fancy. Three-quarters of an hour later, I had shot a wolf, a lion, two zebras, a couple of snakes and a chimpanzee. Needless to say, the Keeper of London Zoo went hopping mad - proving, as my father was later to attest to the magistrate, that the poor man knew not the first thing about the delicate balance of nature.

Before the year was out, I had clocked up quite a few more trophies. Soon the walls of my bedroom were chock-a-block with every manner of stuffed head, never prouder than in death: here a wildebeest, there a penguin, here a partridge, there a tortoise (always so slow on the uptake!). Above my bedhead, I even exhibited the left shin of our elderly cook. The clumsy lady had failed to heed my silent warning, getting caught in the crossfire between myself and an errant hedgehog, simultaneously losing her leg, a 24-piece tea-service she had been carrying and her job, all at the same time!

Once one has caught the blood sports bug, it never goes. If ever there were no new birds around, I would cut corners by nipping to the village store, buying carton upon carton of eggs, tossing them high in the air and bagging them, one by one, until the earth for miles around was splattered bright yellow. But what those who do not live in the country fail to understand is that the shooting of bird and beast is not just a sport but a way of life. On idle nights, I leaf through the gamebooks of my youth, and, time and time again, I am transported back to an infinitely more joyous era.

"December 2nd, 1951: 3 brace of snipe, 7 hare, 9 stag, 1 whippet, 53 woodlice, 4 brace of worms, 1 ret'd station-master, 5 rabbit, 19 goldfish (v poor flyers)."

How vividly such entries evoke golden days of innocence and passion, before the forces of "political correctness" (dread phrase!) rushed to hold the hand of the cunning Monsieur Reynard!

Critics of field sports never appreciate the social side of things - so much more important than any blood-letting. Some of the most lively and stimulating conversations I have ever enjoyed have been while polishing off a picnic on the grouse-moor. Only last Saturday, our conversation zipped along like this:

W Arnold: Brrr! Anyone for another ham sandwich?

W F Deedes: I could manage one, if there's one going begging! Thanks awfully, old man!

(PAUSE)

W Arnold: Brrrrr! Chilly breeze from the west!

Peter Lilley: Did you say vest? I always wear a vest. A white vest, though - never pink. Never ever pink. I really hate pink - my wife will confirm that, if you ask her.

W F Deedes: I think you'll find he said WEST, not VEST!

(PAUSE)

W Arnold: Brrrrrr! Anyone for another ham sandwich?

Marvellous, no? And in my experience our own Royal Family has always been at the very forefront of the social side of field sports, never happier than when outflanking a pheasant before flinging it on the barbecue, for all to savour. And who could seriously argue that the Duke of Edinburgh's great love of shooting could be said to compromise his enthusiasm for endangered species? It does not take a fool to realise that without shooting, there would be no endangered species to love!

As the head of the family, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother is never happier than when flopping around in a pair of old waders. It is a little known fact that she regularly wears waders beneath her voluminous ballgowns, often storing old copies of Horse and Hound in them for when the conversation starts to flag. And even at her grand old age, she retains a terrific love of the chase: only last week, I spotted her spearing a couple of goldfish in the fountains of Clarence House employing only a table-fork, a Swiss Army knife and an electronic cattle-prod.

As godfather to the young Prince William, I have long made it my business to interest him in the pleasures of the gun. If only the "urban underclass" (dread section of the population!) could be encouraged to follow suit, methinks there would be a marked decline in offensive weapons, abusive language and wanton violence. Tally-ho!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Systems Developer Technical Lead

£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

Day In a Page

A selection of 'Pro-Choice' badges are displayed on the coat of a demonstrator during a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dail (Irish Parliament) in Dublin, Ireland  

Ireland's refusal to provide a safe abortion to a suicidal rape victim is a national shame

Peadar O‘Grady
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment