As I progress on my tour around the Country, the deep willed commitment to keep going in one form or another is still very much in evidence. It is to be applauded to the very highest degree and will stand us in good stead for the future. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, the feeling of true grit is, I am delighted to say out there in bucket loads! Something else which is a real pleasure to see in these most difficult times or at any time for that matter is, there really are some lovely Hounds about. Where, would we be without them, I ask myself!
The old words of ‘andsom is as ‘andsom does, may very well be true, but I remember talking to Captain Wallace many years ago. He was sitting with his Hounds at Warren Gate after a long morning and we were discussing various members of the rather good looking lot that surrounded him. He said something in his own distinctive way, which I shall never forget. “You can have an ugly pack of Hounds, James, and they will hunt their heart out for you. You can have a beautiful pack of Hounds and they won’t hunt a yard. However, he went on, it is rather nice to get the combination of both isn’t it?” There he was sitting high up on Exmoor having just had a decent morning, catching a brace, and yes looking at them, he had achieved exactly that. Wise words for a young man!
The Captain and my Father were very close in age and happened to be at school together. A place otherwise named Slough Grammar School, which also used to keep a rather well known pack of Beagles! This is probably where the rivalry began! Whilst they had the utmost respect for each other, they did remind me of two jealous old Dog Hounds who would make out they could not agree over anything. They judged numerous puppy shows together throughout the land, but sadly age did weary them and the double act came to an end after many years. However, they will not be forgotten. I will remember both of them for the sheer tenacity in hunting the fox. They always said that my old Dad could read what his quarry was going to do next. I believe they were both extremely fortunate to have this gift and more than likely had an idea where the feller they were about to pursue was going, before he had even had time to cock his leg!
“Those were the days! Far better, than it is today”! May be, but as the World has changed, some may say what is hunting is still doing here? It is here because it has adapted to 21st Century life. Yes it had to but it has not lost its overall standards, which really does make our critics angry. It is something of which everybody involved in hunting today should be extremely proud. We have not only demonstrated our greatest strength, survival in the face of adversity, we have shown true resilience and guts.
Where does this strength of resolve come from? It is without any doubt, in the British spirit. However let us just cast back to the beginning of this article and later the conversation with Captain Wallace. These demonstrate in different ways, a sense of commitment which cannot be questioned. It is that, and more, which is directly and indirectly rubbing off positively on all those involved in hunting today. It is also coming from the many other sections of society who have generously rallied behind our cause. It is this combination as well as other major factors why we are still here today. So, with Boxing Day fast approaching it will be then that the proof of the pudding again will be in the eating! Bawtry, South Yorkshire last year proved just exactly how popular hunting is in an area which is not entirely rural.
By bringing this Commitment together with first class Communication, we have the key to our future. Communicating positively to the outside world, as well as between ourselves is a vital ingredient. Equally being ready to act quickly when something goes wrong, or, if you and your Hounds end up in an embarrassing situation, is equally important! This was nicely demonstrated by a rather enthusiastic Master some years ago, who was rebuked by an angry lady from a Council House who said she had a Hound upstairs and to b...... get it out! The Master waded through the house in his scarlet coat and dirty hunting boots venturing up to find North Cotswold Gaudy who was hunting with the pack at the time, in the child’s bedroom! She was duly removed and peace was later restored over a rather good bottle of French wine! Be careful though, in November 2012 you may well find yourself being arrested if you are ever in that sort of location!
So there we have it, with the two C words working in harmony, hunting will be as ever ready to fight off the enemy. Most importantly though, it will always be there to win new friends. Good Hunting and Happy Christmas.