A TREASURED possession of John’s, is his grandfather’s gun.
It came to him because of the generosity of his Uncle Fred, who passed it on to him because he said he knew John would appreciate its history and value as a link to a previous generation of farmers and shooting men.
John has never actually taken the gun on a shoot. It is an old hammer gun with Damascus barrels and is in proof. Just.
John did not know his grandfather but was assured by Uncle Fred that it was in frequent use, and he was very tickled that John had had the gun restored so it was safe to use.
Now it is also a memento of Uncle Fred, who sadly has just passed away, but who enjoyed a full and colourful life, enlivened and enriched by many friends and very loving daughters.
After leaving the family farm, Uncle Fred embraced what was a very forward looking way of making a living for a traditional farmer; he opened a caravan site.
The caravanners became extensions of his family, and offered company as well as a living. John’s mother marvelled at the extent of his social circle.
She went over every week to take him tins full of baking, but ‘He’s never in’ she would say.
“Someone is always fancying a trip to the local pub and offering to take Fred with them”.
In fact, if no-one was available to take him, he even had such a special link that he could ring the pub and they would collect him for the night.
Fred’s birthdays were especially memorable.
He loved to treat a full table of family and friends to a meal in his favourite pub and sat beaming at the head of the table throughout the entire evening.
John can only just remember as a child, Uncle Fred forking sheaves on to a horse drawn rully at harvest time.
Their tractor ran on iron wheels. In its day a modern piece of tackle, but looking back a real bone shaker. He also recalls his uncle taking him to look at a peewits nest ( called tirfits by Fred) on grassland and pointing out a chaffinch nest in a horse chestnut tree that he had grown from a conker..
“Maybe that’s what inspired me to be interested in bird watching and trees.” John said.
But not cats. Which Fred did love. I remember when we went to pick up the gun, cats and kittens abounded in the house.
His daughter Claire has had to home several, which were used to having the run of his house and the comfort of his sofa and fireside.
Thinking back to the old family farm and Uncle Fred, John reminisced about the privy down the garden and that they had to use candles at night when everyone went to bed early.
May I add John still does (go to bed early that is).
However the old privy at our farm is now a locked chemical shed.
Some warning about dangerous fumes I presume.