Posted by: Chris Wright | June 25, 2008

Half Cocked in Hampshire

Wild eyed and raging, forcing something called a Nissan into the ditch as I roared through Fleet was the most notable achievement of a depressingly damp days shooting with the Major. The occupants cheerfully waved, the fingers spread into an unlikely V, in recognition of the expensive roar of the Bentley’s 4.5 litre engine as I hurtled towards the Lismoyne.

Sweeping into the gravelled driveway I was confronted with a class of motor car I normally associate with the vilest of travelling salesman and my spirits sank still further when, on striding into reception, the Purdey tucked safely under my arm, a whey faced gentleman with the abject look of a librarian flung himself to the floor screeching incomprehensible gibberish concerning the mother of god.

Ignoring him for the imbecile he undoubtedly was, I marched up to the desk and firmly rang the bell for attention. A bespectacled face rose slowly above the level of the counter, bottom lip quivering tremulously.

“Oatenshaw” I announced. “Have your man take my bags up to the room, and look sharp – I’ll take a large brandy in the bar”

“The gun sir” stammered the girl, blinking like a halfwit.

“Gun? What the devil are you talking about?” I exclaimed, suddenly concerned that there may in fact be some substance to the librarians hysterical raving.

She pointed with trembling finger to the Purdey. “Have you taken leave of your senses?” I responded “This is a James Purdey, 12 Bore, Underlever shotgun – have you never seen one before?”

Her mouth opened and closed, but no words emerged, the disgusting sound of a man sobbing drifted up from the region of my ankles. A door opened and a black suited creature emerged, wringing its hands as if in supplication, I stared, wondering if I had strayed unwittingly into the grounds of a lunatic asylum.

“We have a rule sir, about guns that is… the fact of it is…we don’t allow them in the hotel…” he blathered.

I raised the Purdey to show him, but the blood drained from his face and he leapt backwards, cowering behind the desk with a shriek. Growing tired of this charade I snatched up my key and marched briskly up the stairs, a well aimed boot just failing to connect with the head of the snivelling librarian on the way.

Locating my room, I opened the door and entered, colliding almost immediately with the opposite wall. Fearing that I had mistakenly entered a broom closet, I fumbled for the light switch. The feeble illumination afforded by the single bulb confirmed the presence of a bed, no doubt intended for a manservant and a door to the side, suggesting the presence of a master bedroom.

With a sigh I threw open the door and strode through it – the resultant collision with what turned out to be a shower cubicle left me with a black eye and the Purdey with both barrels smoking, having demolished the Shanks water closet in a close range hail of Crockats No. 2 shot. My spirits sank a little lower as my ringing ears discerned the sound of footsteps, running along the corridor.

As the door burst open, I wheeled, suddenly furious “Have you seen the state of this bloody room?” I demanded. The gaggle of chambermaids shrank back as the housekeeper pushed her way to the front. I was startled to see a familiar face “Hettie!” I cried.

“Mr. Oatenshaw! What on earth… you poor man, you’re bleeding…” She set the maids bustling about the room and taking me down the corridor installed me in a room that whilst just as small, was at least equipped with a full set of bathroom furniture.

As this glorious country disintegrates around my ears, it is greatly reassuring that the good will of the working classes is still something to be counted on. Reclining on the bed, admiring Hettie as she pinned up her hair, I reflected on my good fortune.

The sound of a distant siren, faint but growing unmistakably louder, barely intruded on my thoughts.



  1. Fabulous stuff, I look forward to the next adventure…..

  2. Natalie – you have excellent taste 🙂

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