By Sarah Pridgeon
This week, I should like to tell you the story of The Day I Was Nearly Murdered (and then definitely wasn’t).
I’m not generally prone to panic. On the other hand, I am English and should not be placed in the vicinity of firearms without a very good reason. Because, this:
In case it isn’t immediately obvious from the ineptitude of every Englishman ever depicted on film with his pistol pointed in the wrong direction (which is all of them), we’re not very good with guns. We haven’t got any, you see.
To the English, a gun is a mythological weapon used in times of national emergency, such as when faced with terrorism or aliens. These are the only conceivable situations in which you should place a working firearm in the hands of a Brit, unless you want someone’s foot to be shot off.
Nope, the state of being best described as Being Near Me With A Gun is not one to be undertaken lightly. As far as I’m concerned, an unknown man prowling through the trees in one’s back yard while carrying a rifle does not count as a good reason to Be Near Me With A Gun and will do nothing but provoke anguish, distress and overreaction.
One cannot simply wander outside and demand an explanation under these circumstances, because the answer to, “What are you hunting?” will almost certainly be, “You.” Hopping from foot to foot while staring through each window in turn proved equally unhelpful, so I decided to gather photographic evidence of my murderer to help the CSI team in the wake of my inevitable demise.
I immediately hit an unforeseen problem: no zoom on my camera phone and absolutely no possibility of being stupid enough to go outside. I achieved a blurred picture of the front six inches of an ominous, partly-hidden truck with zero defining features and neither license plate nor murderer before scuttling back to the relative safety of the kitchen.
Next idea: call the husband. Scuppered by recorded message with no interest in predicament.
Stage three panic imminent, I sent Mom-in-Law a nonchalant text, casually enquiring as to whether she knew of a reasonable explanation for there being a prowly man with a rifle outside the window. “Nope,” came the reply. “I’m on my way.”
If there is one thing in this world more worthy of respect than a man with a very big gun, it’s a mother defending her own. I continued to hide bravely until her car appeared on the horizon, an angry dust cloud in its wake, ready and prepared to cut off the murderer’s path of escape.
My heart swelled with relief to see the ominous green truck chased away, its proverbial tail between its legs. The day was saved, the damsel rescued, the murderer full of regret.
Anti-climactic addendum: it wasn’t a murderer, just a game warden, calmly doing his job. He was apparently searching for an injured deer by utilizing his years of training in being unnecessarily frightening to British people.
And so, the moral to today’s tale of Almost Murder is as follows: when dealing with your easily spooked English guests, please be sure to leave your shotgun in the car. You really don’t want the rescue team alerted.