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Joined: Jan 2013
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Sidelock
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Sidelock
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I did initially write this for a local magazine many years ago and after recently reading it my eldest son remarked whats wrong dad no bottle! To ashamed to let the Brits know now how much of an idiot you made of yourself? I wish to make it very clear now that this is a greatly cleaned up version of the actual lets extract the wee wee out of the old man type conversation. After subduing the urge to take him to a less visited place in our garden and giving him a very severe one to one farther son type talking to with any heavy object I could quickly lay my hands on. To be honest it was only the thoughts of all that digging for the impromptu internment and worst of all she who must be obeyed complaining constantly for whats left of my life, that the gene bank I had so badly treated one half of the investment in him did in fact belong to her, made me promptly reconsider. Any way this is what can happen if you let your mind wonder and at the same time taking your eye off the ball. I am sure I am not the only one to have done this at one time or another. Has any one else got the bottle (my sons terminology isnt it grand what a four year university education can do for ones word power though I am still trying to get my head round Its Mingin dad!) to add this went wrong for me type of thing posting?

I am sure the words thats not what I bargained for can trigger a memory or two in all of us, some of them good and others you wish had stayed out of recall's way in that place at the back of our mind with the sign do not disturb". I have memories that escape now and then though the older I become the less they trouble me and some now make me smile. My story starts at a time not that long ago when a shot gun licence was not required in Great Britain for the purchase and sale of shot guns, though you did need a licence to keep a dog, now that's typical British quirkiness! This was just the climate for an entrepreneurial young man who with a purchase here and a sale there could supplement his income with no great effort. I did see the potential in money making when invited by a friend to accompany him to a farm auction sale to be held at a local village deep in the Cheshire countryside. At these sales there were usually a gun or two and if I were extremely lucky one may be in reasonable condition, but the vast majority would remove your head and a finger or two if you where stupid enough to load one. At this time there was a fashion for what we now call theme restaurants and pubs, especially the ones pretending to be farm house kitchens. To add that touch of realism to the whole picture the obligatory shot gun would have to hang over the fire place, often supplied by people like yours truly after purchasing it for just a few pounds. With a coat of varnish for the stock and blue for the barrels plus the right amount of welding to the breech by my local Agricultural Engineer to make the gun unusable. Agricultural Engineer was an up-market title for a blacksmith according to Albert, my local exponent of the black art, who made wrought iron gates and fancy bits and pieces from old horse shoes and the like as a cash paying side line. His day to day work though was welding back the bits and pieces the local farmers would break off their various bits of farm machinery, but only if they could find him. He was more often than not in a small wood directly across the field from the smithy, shooting pigeon or anything else stupid enough to come within range of his gun. Albert was one of the best shooting companions you could have for any number of reasons. Besides his wicked sense of humor he had permission to shoot on practically every inch of farm land in the area. Other members of our small shooting syndicate would say if there were farms on Mars, you could bet your last cartridge Albert would have shooting permission.
My work enabled me to regularly travel the roads of rural Cheshire. I could make a note of those road side signs inviting you to such and such a sale on such and such date. With the chance to make some extra cash I would try to arrange work to fit in as many sales as possible. The first sale for the week was Tuesday I was in rather a cheerful frame of mind having been paid for now you see me now you dont escapade three nights before, in the largest of the local estates, with a list of game to supply local pubs and restaurants for the makings of their game pies amongst other things. Some how the word poaching to us always seemed a little strong a description for our nocturnal activities, but like a lot of things it all depended on what side of the fence you happened to be on at the time.
I had planned my days work to give me a couple of hours to look at the sale items. But like life in general what you plan is not necessarily what happens. As the day drifted on I fell further behind time. Consequently, when I arrived the auction had already started, so I hurriedly went from one farm building to another, looking at the many sale items, some of them not at all recognizable that once gave this small farm that vital every day pulse of life. I did find one lot consisting of two poor condition shot guns. Making a note of the lot number off I went to a large barn where the auction was all ready in full swing. While waiting for the guns to be auctioned I found myself idly looking around at the sea of faces, they all seemed to be that wonderful shade of farming red that comes from working day in day out in every thing the weather can throw at them. I was still day dreaming about red faces, thinking did my face look an unhealthy pale to them? Then I was taken totally by surprise. Being held up was a rather fine example of a pin fire shot gun, in far better condition than the usual offerings at these sales. Held next to it by a pair of disembodied hands were two boxes of pin fire cartridges. Like lightning my hand was up in the bidding. This gun I wanted for my collection, one box of cartridges I would be able sell to a collector friend to off set some of the gun's cost. I did start to get a sense of unease when the bidding went past eight pounds. But as the saying goes in for a penny in for a pound, the hammer fell at ten pounds five shillings. I was now the owner of this rather fine gun. I waited for the two guns I had seen earlier, though the bidding was a lot slower for them, in fact I only paid five pounds ten shillings for the pair. What a day! This had been one of best days for buying guns so far. I went to the auction office situated in the corner of a small building to pay for my purchases, though the auction would not finish for a few more hours. With every thing paid for I decided to have my lunch at a near by pub and return to collect my guns after the auction had ended. There were just a few late stragglers when I arrived back at the farm. Walking to the makeshift office I could see the auctioneer talking to one of his staff. He was wearing the usual auctioneers uniform, a tweed suit with the compulsory yellow waistcoat, my understanding of the bright waist coat was to enable him to be seen no matter how dim the surroundings. But this waist coat was something else in the light of day he looked as flash as a rat in a gold coat. I enquired about my purchases. Breaking off his conversation he told me all the remaining uncollected lots were in the barn next door. Off I went, eager to have a closer look at my pin fire gun. As usual one of the auction staff was standing at the entrance to inspect your receipt for the lots you were to take away. He pointed to my three guns lying on top of a rather crude cage made up from rough timber covered with wire mesh containing some rather subdued ducks. Walking over to the cage, I picked up my three guns and headed for my car. Opening the drivers door, I slipped the two scrap guns behind the passenger seat whilst propping the pin fire against the inside of the drivers door. On closer inspection the gunmaker was a Samuel Ebrall just as I was about to slip the gun behind the seat with the other two, a voice from the barn shouted you havent forgotten your other lots have you? I Placing the gun with the other two I walked back to the barn, looking all around for the two cartridge boxes. By this time the vivid waistcoat had wandered in. Waving my receipt to catch his eye, I said I couldnt find my cartridges. On the shelf over there came the reply Ill fetch them while you load up your ducks. Ducks! Ducks! What ducks? I stammered! Those ducks was the reply from the waistcoat, pointing to the cage. Now as shocks go this one could only be described as heart stopping! For an escapee lad from Liverpool with a reputation for having a mind as fast as a bookies runner, with a reply for every occasion, this time my mouth was moving but not a sound could you hear. My thought processes were heading for terminal meltdown. Then on went the brakes slowing that nauseating merry go round in my head. That's why the bidding went to ten pounds, the f----ng ducks! That should not be a problem, I stupidly thought. I will explain I did not know the ducks were part of the lot. Even though I had paid for them could they not find someone else to have them for free? Mister R in the yellow waist coat by now had summed up my predicament and was intent on having some amusement at my expense. As he approached holding the two boxes of cartridges his delight in my situation was almost palpable. In a split second I could see what he wanted, those ducks in my nice clean car. I did try every excuse I could think of for not taking the ducks away, but he was having none of them. His response to all my protestations Now listen sonny, its up to you to make sure that the items you bid for are what you want, its not bloody Woolworths you know! With that he turned towards the door minder Peter, give him a hand to put them in his car. Come on lad Ill find some paper to put the cage on adding youre not from round here. That remark followed me for many a year and only ended when I made an all out effort to reduce my strong Liverpool accent. While loading the ducks a conversation developed. It turned out Peter was retired and worked as an auction porter to supplement his pension. This was my first meeting with him. Over the following years he became a close friend and helped this city lad understand and appreciate the changing seasonal faces of the Cheshire country side. As for the auctioneer, we did meet at other auctions, though on one occasion the situation was reversed and the dish revenge should always be served measure for measure calculated and cold, but thats as they say is another story. I did say the ducks where subdued how wrong could I be, the car journey seemed to wake them up at both ends with a vengeance. Between the cars exhaust fumes from the open windows, the noise and smell I was now desperately trying to keep from seeing my lunch for the second time that day, I could only describe it as a drive with the demon ducks from hell! With the nearest help at Alberts smithy fifteen miles away, the journey seemed to take for ever. With the engine off and away from the nauseating cocktail of aromas and devoid of one cheese sandwich lunch, I started to feel a little better by the time I reached the door. Albert was sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of tea. Taking one look at me he knew something was wrong. Sit down and tell Uncle Albert all about it he said in a rather staged caring voice. I sat down and after the pouring of the tea, came the out pouring of the story. Albert just sat there, eyes growing ever wider, accompanied by subdued gurgling noises, he did try his best but it all became too much. His head went down on the table accompanied by a loud moaning and heaving of his shoulders. This went on for some considerable time. I did think he was choking at one point by the ever increasing noise. He tried speaking but between the gurgling tears and choking that was out of the question. I thought it would be better if I left him to get it out of his system so out I went to check on Lucifers webbed footed bath toys. Opening the rear of the car diverted them from the ear splitting cacophony to total silence though it did not last long. But for a split second did I see those eyes flash a hellish red? Albert walking down the path set the noise off again but this time there was something unusual about him, his face was very different and under other circumstances I would have found the sight hilarious. But I could not find a laugh in myself. He stood there looking like a refugee from the Alice Cooper band his usual smithy fire darkened face was streaked with every shade from white to black after his laughing bout but the eye makeup effects were something else. And what are you going to do with this lot he said desperately trying not to laugh? Take them to the lake in the park. The local town public park had a large lake complete with island, just the place for eight homeless ducks. Yes, I know these ducks are white Aylesbury and the residents are mallard but in this situation my view was one duck is much the same as another and I did hear the Devil always looks after his own. We transferred the ducks to Alberts van for the trip to the park later that evening. I climbed the spiked railings in the dark, acquiring one torn off jacket pocket Albert lifted the cage over remarking I hope that bloody gun was worth all of this On opening the cage you could say the inmates took to their new home like a duck takes to water. I did visit them from time to time and over the years I have seen some rather strange looking ducks on that lake. Aylesbury cross with a lot of brown and blue wing flashes. Mallard cross with a high proportion of white feathers. The smell lingered in my car for months. On especially warm days it became so strong no one would travel with me. As for the gun, I have always known it as the Duck Gun though it is not a fowling piece. I did a little research on the gun and its maker, though its not at all comprehensive.

Maker. Samuel Ebrall. Shrewsbury, England.
Serial Number. 1703 Year of manufacture. Approximately 1850.
Construction. Non rebounding hammer back action locks with Jones under leaver opening
Gauge. 12 Guage Cartridge pin fire.
Barrels. 30 inch Damascus, true cylinder, Black powder proof only.
Stock. English straight hand.
Forend. Splinter slide wedge fixing.
Weight 6 lb 14 oz.
This gun was proofed in London and for a provincial maker rather unusual. It must have been made for a special customer who wanted the cachet of London proof marks.
I have asked myself many times was it worth it? And my answer yes no and maybe!
DAMASCUS.



The only lessons in my life I truly did learn from where the ones I paid for!
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Sidelock
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A little long, but I enjoyed your story, and the gun looks mighty nice.

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Great story

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agreed = a great story


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Fun story! Thanks for sharing. Neat gun, Quack!


It ain't whether you hit a bird that matters, it's the fun you have even if you don't.
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A wonderful read on this beautiful first day of January. And about two of my favorites. I love pinfires and shoot them hunting when I can. And the Ducks. My wife and I had a lovely one for Christmas dinner. I always order Duck when I infrequently see it on a restaurant menu.

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Originally Posted By: Daryl Hallquist
A wonderful read on this beautiful first day of January. And about two of my favorites. I love pinfires and shoot them hunting when I can. And the Ducks. My wife and I had a lovely one for Christmas dinner. I always order Duck when I infrequently see it on a restaurant menu.


Daryl,

If you ever get to New Orleans go to dinner (or supper grin) at the Palace Cafe on Canal St. Their Pepper Crusted Duck Breast is wonderful, as is everything else I've ever had there.

SRH


May God bless America and those who defend her.
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Sidelock
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Stan, their Shrimp Tchefuncte is my wife favorite there. Small world.

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Sidelock
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When we do go to N.O. it's for meetings, and we always stay at the Marriot, which is right next door. Have walked from there to Antoine's, too. But, I wouldn't do that anymore. Too many drug dealers betwixt the two.

New Orlean's redeeming feature is it's cuisine. I have turtle soup as an appetizer at every evening meal, wherever we eat. Brennan's, Commander's Palace, all good venues. I've never been disappointed at a restaurant owned by Dickie Brennan.

SRH


May God bless America and those who defend her.
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Originally Posted By: Daryl Hallquist
And the Ducks. My wife and I had a lovely one for Christmas dinner.


same here - a nice big mallard from a pair that bought into my cork decoys earlier in the month

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