Monday, May 4, 2009

Country Pursuits

Of course, back in those days, electronic badgers were almost unheard of. Those of us who could get them used clockwork weasels. But, for the majority of contenders, a field mouse operated by foot-pump was the best they could often afford.

Back in those days, of course, the sport was completely unregulated. People, therefore, turned up at the meets with whatever they could afford or cobble together themselves.

I recall such things as a water-powered hamster, a cocker spaniel adapted with the pedals from a Raleigh racing bike, a hot-air stoat, a steam-powered water vole and a push-along duck.

It often made quite a spectacle. A popular meet could have upwards of seven people, maybe a couple more on early-closing day, or if the pubs were shut.

We would set out for the Little Frigging woods in procession with the eldest - or soberest - leading the way. The leader would usually carry the large meet banner while leading the small woodland creature of choice. The two Under-Perverts, next in seniority, would follow the leader. In turn, they would be followed by the necessary six Vestal Virgins, or nearest local equivalent such as - in the case of Tupping-on-the-Marsh - usually Miss Primly-Vestment manageress of their cake shop. The rest, including any locals bored, or pissed, enough to bother, followed on behind.

Once out in the woods, at as close to the exact centre as we could divine using the strictly traditional methods, or, if either wet or cold, as far as we could be arsed to go, we would begin.

I don't need to go into detail here, as the old traditional forms of Woodland Creature Disconcertment are so well-known to all, these days. This is due mainly to the professional game now being shown for the full 24 hours, each and every day of the year on no-less than thirteen dedicated Woodland Sports channels, eclipsing even 24-Hour Non-Stop Celebrity Wife-Swapping Orgies as this country's televised spectator sport of choice.

Anyway, as soon as the meet was over, with the winner crowned with the traditional broken bottle by the most sore and disgruntled of the losers, the survivors would gather themselves, the remnants of their clothing, and their - often still-Disconcerted - woodland animals (in the sacks provided). We would then wend our weary way home - if we could remember the way back - proud in the knowledge of living through another never-to-be-repeated complete waste of an afternoon.

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