Neither of us is good at diagnosing the exact cause of human illness, and our cure is always the same: a glass of brandy and ginger ale, and a hot curry to combat any lurking virus. A friend of ours, a veterinarian, once treated Mike for a human virus similar to hexameter in birds by prescribing him to eat the hottest curry he could cope with. It seemed to do the trick so we've been converts ever since.
Neither of us is a very good patient either, though Mike would definitely take the title if impatience was a sport. He beasts through his sickness, stopping behind a tree occasionally to do what he has to do, as he did yesterday while the guns carried shooting, none the wiser. I felt sorry for myself quietly, while picking up birds and coaching a new lady shooter for a few drives.
Now that heavy rain and winds are buffeting our part of England, I have a good excuse to stay in and mend both my health and a backlog of clothing. The shoot takes its toll on our uniform. Besides spot treating the blood stains and general muck on Mike's suit and my breeks, I have to patch holes made by barbed wire and brambles, darn holes in sweaters and pull threads back through that got caught by thorns and branches.
The uniforms are not disposable like most clothes these days, nor are they machine washable. I've had to look back in household hints books from the earlier part of the 20th century for tips and solutions to keep the woolen cloth clean and in good repair. Shooting suits worn by guns are often threadbare in places and patched in others. Some guns have worn the same breeks for 40 years, or passed them on to sons as their waistlines expanded. It's almost a sign of "good breeding" to have a well-worn suit. Only new money have new suits. There's a lot of history and tradition even in a single pair of breeks.
There are stories in them too. Mike tells me of a gun who's affectionately referred to as Mr "Wrong Trousers" because when it comes time to tip the keeper, he pats his pockets as says" Ah - I appear to have put the wrong trousers on. I left my money in my other pair. I'll shall see you double next time." But he always seems to have on the wrong trousers. I think the story more than makes up for the tip anyway.
All of the dogs are off duty today, resting up for tomorrow's shoot, except for Dakota. She's at her sentry post next to my desk, keeping watch on the front yard for intruders or visitors. We don't have a doorbell but we have a vigilant shepherd with a loud bark, which functions just as well and doesn't need batteries.
All the mending is done, all the shooting socks and dog leads are washed and drying above the fireplace ready for tomorrow's shoot. I think I will go and see if I can interest Mike in a brandy and ginger ale - for medicinal purposes of course.