Baron Crapulence
The witterings of
Baron Crapulence of Chugley Harvard
As recorded by Felicity O'Toole
'A Shoot'

baron crapulence oy, oh joy! The shooting season is upon us once again. There's nothing like regular shooting to perk up the spirits. We’ve had some pretty good bags too. And the wonderful luncheons that Cook prepares for us, of course. These consist of both cold and hot, the latter brought in the very old boxes we still have; heavy wooden double walled affairs with an infill of straw. They are brought to us by Carruthers and Jenkins with two or three spare staff from the house. I allow them to drive as far as they can in one of the Range Rovers so they only have to carry it for the last mile or two; nobody can accuse me of abusing the servants.

This time of year is always pleasant with many weekend guests and good shooting. We were out on my estate only the other day, my friend Simon Cholmondley-Bibulant J. P. present in the party, when some rather scruffy urchin trespassing on my land got in the way and received a quantity of buckshot for his misdemeanours. Do you know the wretched boy’s father had the cheek to complain to the local constabulary! A pimply policeman came round the next day, and after I’d got the dogs off him and got someone to tidy him up a bit, tried to arrest me! Can you believe it? Carruthers threatened to let the dogs out again and the bobby went away encased in the bandages that we had so kindly provided, with his tail between his legs, so to speak; I thought that a rather amusing pun at the time. Anyway I had a word with Simon the next day, who suggested I send my gamekeeper Gherkin or Jerkin — I can never remember which — to extract the shot and I heard no more about the matter except that the aforementioned constable is no longer employed in his former capacity. These incidents are a bit trying nonetheless and interfere with the general ambience of one’s life.

I recall that on one occasion last year Sir Hugh Grossly-Featherstonehaugh, Bart., whom I have to admit is not the greatest marksman in the world, managed to kill a Great Crested Newt in one of our ponds whilst attempting to nab a partridge after claiming he had tripped. He’s never really excelled at shooting (or much of anything else for that matter) and I always found it best to position myself to his rear on such occasions.

In the local Inn afterwards we were relating this amusing episode to the landlord, Mullard, a tenant of mine, when some awful bearded oik, to whom I had never even been introduced came up and started talking about ‘protected species’ or some such rot. You don’t even eat newts so why anyone was bothering about them at all baffles me. Needless to say the young man was barred from the hostelry (and all the other local establishments of which I happen to own the freehold) and we haven’t seen him since.

Sir Hugh Grossly-Featherstonehaugh, Bart., has fortunately forgone the shooting this year, as I have said above, he’s a rotten shot at the best of times, but since he came out of hospital I still don’t think he's firing with both barrels. I realise that in his case it is difficult to tell, nevertheless I think for all concerned he is better off with his pole down at the river or mooning about Crapulent Towers for the day, even if he does make free with my Bruichladdich.

Actually he used to go fishing quite often and I remember my daughter Norsia often accompanied him on these occasions. That was before the farce of their engagement, an event I don't care to dwell upon especially after years of encouraging him to get on with it. What is worse is that Norsia has been alternating rather alarmingly between fits of anger and melancholy ever since. I don't think that I will ever understand the ladies.

When Sir Hugh first came out of hospital we made a bit of a mistake by immediately reinstating him in the cricket team. His first ball was quite a fast short delivery but instead of ducking he simply seemed to run away from it and, having knocked two of the slips over en route was nearly at third man when the bowler was ready to deliver the next ball. When he was eventually persuaded to return to the wicket he ran backwards this time and was comprehensively bowled by what would have been a yorker had he not by this time been at square leg. Perhaps we should have waited until the last of his bandages had been removed before we played him. I do so hope he will be all right for next season, I’ll admit he is pretty useless at most things but he could bat a bit, although he really ought to have had more regard for the team than to get injured (and out) in such a stupid manner at that Affucton match. I even told him about Slippage’s revenge later in the day, I thought it my cheer him up a bit, but he seems to have lost his sense of humour as he just winced.

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I: Noblesse Oblige

II: London

III: Cook

IV: Some Daughters

V: More about Cook

VI: A Cricket Match

VII: A brief engagement
and cider

VIII: Children Going and Not Going

IX: A Shoot

X: Christmas, Now
and Then

XI: A Night in Soho

The Watley Review