The hunting person’s guide to occupying yourself for a whole day during the current Covid-19 pandemic…
1. Get up bright and early, feeling surprisingly chirpy. The lack of socialising means your alcohol consumption is at an all-time low and hangovers are a distant memory. Visit the hunters, who are on holiday, and check that they and their rugs are still in one piece. They eye you warily in case you had any thoughts of catching them.
2. “Work from home” for a few hours, which mostly consists of Facebooking and working out how to join the virtual “meet” that your hunting friends have organised on Houseparty.
3. Start fencing the outdoor run that the hound puppies you rashly agreed to have will occupy. Within five minutes you bang your thumb with a hammer and decide that the huntsman can do it when he gets here with the puppies, which, given the current movement restrictions, won’t be any time soon, so there’s no rush.
4. Feeling wonderfully efficient, you have a close look at your hunting clothes to check they are in good repair. How often, at the end of a hunting season, have you put your coat away in a cupboard and forgotten about it until the autumn, and been guiltily horrified that it still has traces of last winter’s mud on it? Clearly there’s no excuse for that this year. You brush and sponge your coats, leave your clean hunting boots with a layer of polish on, iron and put away stocks. For the first time in years, you take your spur straps out of your spurs, clean and polish both metal and leather, and store somewhere where you will never find them again, and do the same to the garter straps on your boots. You make sure your hunting whip is properly cleaned, even scrubbing the lash until it looks like new. You examine your gloves for holes, find some and sew them up. You steam the velvet of your hunting hat, and try to wipe away years of sweat from the inside. Yuck.
5. On a roll now, you do the same to your tack, taking it apart, carefully cleaning and conditioning it and checking stitching. You put a pile ready, all labeled, for the menders, and vow to take it to them as soon as the current restrictions are relaxed.
6. Having done all that, you feel very virtuous and reward yourself by drinking the dregs from the bottom of any hipflasks to clear them out. And that quarter-bottle of rhubarb gin in the cupboard — plenty of time to buy some/make some more before we get going next season, after all.
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7. As that warm, slightly fuzzy feeling sets in, you decide to watch that copy of The Belstone Fox you bought ages ago and haven’t got round to viewing. It makes you cry, copiously, and you compound the problem by watching Tarka The Otter as well, having pressed pause to raid the freezer for that tray of sausage rolls you didn’t need when the hounds met at yours in the winter. You defrost them in the microwave them and eat the lot before drunk-dialling your favourite MFH to tell him (again) what a brilliant job he does, how much you loved your season and how you can’t wait for autumn hunting to start. Tomorrow, with a hangover, before hoovering up the sausage roll crumbs, you will need to ring and apologise.
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