Friday 28 April 2017

So, How Would You Feel if Someone Shot at You?

About ten years ago, I was out at for the evening in a pub at Rochester. I left at about nine-thirty (not the morning!! No, I don't have a problem) and was walking towards the car which was parked on the esplanade. It was a dark winter's night, which was a lucky thing as I was wearing a thick winter coat. Crossing the road, the castle, an impressive Norman castle built in the 12 C overshadowed me; it was quite creepy at that time of night and it felt like eyes of long dead Normans watched my every move. The castle had been very active and had suffered under many a siege.

Perhaps it was my gloomy thoughts, but then I felt a thud against my jacket and a pain in my right shoulder. My first thought was air rifle. I turned, as the shot had clearly come from behind me. My blood was up. How dare someone take a potshot at me! My rage overcame commonsense, as facing the shooter, even an air rifle, was pretty stupid; a pellet in the eye would permanently blind me.

The castle wall, at least what remains, is atop a steep embankment. Black on black greeted my gaze. The streetlights didn't help that high up. I scanned the cars in case the shooter was behind one of these when another crack suggested another shot. A miss.

"Come down, if you are brave enough," I shouted, looking up and scanning the wall. Nothing. Just silence. "Cowards!" I fairly screamed.

I didn't have a mobile phone, so I ran to a phone box and called the police. "Stay there," said the officer. About 10 minutes later I heard a siren, a long way from where I was. I was confused as to whether to wait at the phone box or not, but the siren didn't seem to be coming my way. I raced back to the esplanade to see a police care someway ahead and I chased it. Whether the officer saw me in the rear-view mirror or stopped to try and negotiate a busy main road, I do not know.

Panting I came alongside and tapped on the window. "You here about the air-rifle?" I asked. and the passenger cop nodded.

"I think they are in the castle grounds," I said, pointing.

"We'll drive around and see what we can find," he replied. It was much warmer in the car than out, given the time of year.

"That's no good," I said. "They are in the grounds. I can show you where to get in and I'll help," I offered.

Unfortunately they insisted on driving around in comfort rather than getting into the castle grounds. A feat that is possible, as clearly the shooter had managed it and the walls around the other side are much lower.

That was it. All the way home I was in a rage, cursing the gits who had shot at me. The next day I phoned the police but the desk sergeant was very blase. "We get a lot of air-rifle incidents, usually against animals." (That's not what you want to hear). "I tasked a dog and handler to search for the firing point and they couldn't find one, so there's nothing we can do."

I had already worked that out. Looking for a firing point wouldn't result in finger prints or the perpetrator - they had long gone. I was annoyed that the officers the night before hadn't found anyone, and had been so reluctant to get into the castle grounds. I was also peeved that air-rifle incidents seemed so common. What sort of world are we living in? I suppose the same one as idiots who think it's fun to shine lasers at incoming aircraft to blind the pilot!

A week later I was in the caste grounds and I went to the supposed firing point. The ground was strewn with BB pellets, so not an air-rifle but a BB gun. Still potentially nasty. So much for the police dog and handler not being able to find the firing point, I thought.

The shooter had probably become bored of shooting cats/dogs and had progressed to wanting to shoot at people. I wonder how far this trend has continued. Did he/they progress to real weapons? And why did they do this? Boredom? Fortunately the incident is in the past and I have managed to calm down. I wonder, though, how common this type of event is and why people do it?

Friday 21 April 2017

That's the sort of luck you don't need. God rest his sole.

I had to re-dig the garden pond recently and I was not sure about what to do with the fish. One of them, a mirror carp, had grown ginormously (for a pond: probably a couple of pounds). He was a lucky fish and had survived the local heron, George. At one point I didn't even know I had this fish as my pond had been emptied by said heron.

After George's last foray, I didn't bother with fish for a while and then had a change of heart. After all, it's nice to wander down the garden and watch the fish. I gave up with carp though and bought goldfish. Each evening, I would feed them and was surprised by a great swirl of water on occasions. After a few months I realised I was seeing a fish' mouth and a big fish at that.

The mirror carp must have survived George's dinner party and it had become very shy. Also, being in an empty pond he had grown to epic proportions. I was very pleased and it was great to watch his occasional forays to the surface for food. However, when I re-dug the pond I didn't know where to put the fish. Then I realised I had a water butt, full of rainwater. That gets around the problem of chlorine n the water and when you fill a pond, it is best to let it stand for a few days and sunlight and time sorts out the chlorine.

So, in the water butt went the fish. Only one night later and the mirror carp was no more. Belly up and in the immortal words of Monty Python, this parrot, I mean mirror carp, was dead. My kids have never let me forget this and quite often quote, "Dad killed the fish."

More ignominiously, I buried the fish in the garden and must have buried it too shallow, as the next day and yes you guessed it, the local fox dug it up and ate it. God rest his sole; pardon the pun :)

A picture of my new stream: Ponds are great fun and harbour lost of wildlife and I'm certain fairies and hobbits often visit :)