And That’s Why They Make Swivel Guns

Look it up: swivel gun. Google should have a few pictures from maritime museums. Try to imagine the fun you could have with your own.

And it’s not just the owners of merchant ships passing the east coast of Africa who might appreciate a brace of ’em. Local boat owners who get sick of other people crowding them out in the marinas…or who are afflicted with saboteurs attacking their vessels while docked. Indeed, the Rottnest ferry would probably benefit as well.

The whalers and fishermen who are pestered by the Sea Shepherd gangsters would also appreciate the devices…after all the maritime nuisances do have a skull and crossbones as a symbol and I think that makes them fair and traditional game for a charge of canister over the taffrail.

For myself, as I do not own a boat, I would settle for just the one…mounted on the driver’s side door of my Suzuki Swift with a friction primer and the lanyard led inside through the window. I would use it in our local shopping centre car park for the drivers who loom up and menace you when you are trying to carefully back in or out. I would not be too mean…perhaps load it with Jaffas instead of grapeshot.

If it’s good enough for Johnny Depp and Geoffry Rush, it’s good enough for me.

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Never Fire With No Target Sense

A long time ago before I was as discrete and wise as I am now…cough, cough, cough…I owned a brand-new muzzle loading rifled musket. It was a beauty, capable of throwing a one-ounce minie ball some 1200 yards. It was a man-killer of the British Army in the 1850’s and was certainly capable of doing it in 1988. The local police were willing to licence it to me, probably not realising what it could do.

Well, I shot it at the local rifle range for months, getting pretty good at short distances. Then I took it to a friend’s farm…legally, as it was on an open license. My friend and I proposed to fire it at a small tree on the farm to see if we could cut it in half with the heavy bullets. After an hour of firing, we succeeded, and then packed it in and sat around smugly.

It was only on my return journey toward the city that I saw the lay of the land and realised that all the bullets that had not impacted in the unfortunate tree had passed whistling over a main road that skirted the property. A main interstate highway…

It is said that heaven protects fools and drunks and I was cold sober all day. Guess which category I belonged in. I learned instantly never to fire with no purpose.

Works the same here in the writing game – if I slope off and just blast away without watching to see where the bullets will land, I am sure to do massive harm. Thus I keep a cooling-off shelf for new articles that allows me to reconsider them before pushing the ” publish ” button. You’ll have missed out on some corkers in the last few years here in the column, but then the overshoot could have been tragic.

Reliving The Lives Of Someone Else’s Ancestors…

I used to take a great delight in the re-enactment hobby. I discovered it in the 1980’s as an adjunct to the activities of our local muzzle-loading rifle shooting club.

We’re in Australia, but a section of the country that has little colonial history of note – few battles and none of them famous. Re-enacting colonial times would mainly involve hard work, dirt, and discomfort. It is an unattractive prospect compared to the pageantry and bloodshed of  the United States, Britain, or the European continent. There is little in the way of glamour to it all.

So I reached out – gathering materials to pretend to live in 1860’s America, 1800’s England, and various areas during the Middle ages. There were a lot more things to wear and do when one concentrated on these cultures. At various times you could have seen me as an ACW soldier of either side, a British soldier of 1815 or 1860, a medieval dentist or crossbowman…it was a varied picture. But none of it was a picture of my own life …or of the lives of my ancestors.

Ultimately, this is where the activity failed. It introduced me to like-minded individuals here and now, and I value their friendships….but it had no valid connection to my life.

So what has taken the place of this once all-consuming passion? What fire burns in the grate now? And why is it producing a better heat for me? Read the next post and see.

Dirty Work At the Crossroads

I have decided to take up the life of a highwayman.

I found a long black cloak and hat with a brim that goes over my eyes. The local Parties-R-Us had a good selection of black masks. I’ve enrolled in a course of horse riding – and I asked specifically for a fiery steed. The lady at the riding school was a little skeptical, but has promised to put me down for ” Sparkles “. Apparently they have a lot of highway robbers in the Shetlands and have developed a special horse for them…or so she says.

My application to the Police Firearms Branch for a licence for a brace of pistols for purposes of robbery went in Monday so that’s all right. I’ve been practicing my flourishing in the mirror with a pair of large bananas and I think I can manage pretty well – provided Sparkles is going to stand still.

The only two things left to sort out are what the schedule of the mail coach is and where I shall bail it up. I believe the country mail for Albany and the wheatbelt is taken on coaches now that most of the rail services have been closed down, so that should mean good pickings. I am also hoping for gouty squires and aristocratic maidens with purses full of sovereigns. I plan to barricade the highway to force the coach to stop by rolling large rocks onto the bitumen. I’ve seen it done by a coyote in cartoons.

The thought has just come to me…I’ll need a highwayman’s name. Something to strike terror into the gouty squires and set the hearts of the maidens fluttering. Perhaps it would be as well to change from referring to myself as Uncle Dick and become Captain Dick – the Terror of Tammin.

I’ve seen Tammin, and frankly, it terrifies me.

 

My Kinda Social Justice Warrior

I was never much of a fan of revolution until I saw the uniforms. Particularly the ones they gave to the girls. Eugene Delacroix was on the spot to capture the new fashion and I am grateful.

I even approve of the musket, though my experience of the 1777 Charleville .69 calibre arm was mixed. It had a good barrel, and  a convenient set of barrel bands to allow for cleaning, but the stock was woefully short coupled – the French must all have had short arms and tiny physiques. The British Brown Bess was a much more comfortable firearm to use. About the only really clever thing the French did was put a locking ring on the tree-cornered bayonet so that you could withdraw it without having it fall off the barrel.*

The heading image is only part of Delacroix’s painting; ” Liberty Leading The People “- if you google it you’ll get to see the chaps on the lady’s right and the kid with the pistol. The one with the top hat seems to be hefting a blunderbus…which leads one to question who exactly he is, with the fancy clothes and the civilian man-killer. Stagecoach guard? Gamekeeper?

Further to her right is a pirate with a cutlass. He’s also got a pistol aimed at his own goolies.

The kid with the pistol is actually toting two of them, plus an improbably large bag of accessories. It may contain his play lunch.

And they are all climbing over a pile of broken furniture and rubbish. Delacroix has used the caption to suggest a noble purpose for it all, but after looking at this lot, I have come to the conclusion that Liberty is not really leading the people. She’s had a good look at them and is doing her best to get away from them.

I should too. Armed amateurs with no sense of firearms responsibility. Any SSAA range officer would throw ’em out in a minute.

*  When the US Army redesigned the basic musket in 1842 they added more stock and wrist to it and it became a really good battlefield shotgun. But by then the rifled musket was the queen of battle so it was a second-line item.

No Knives In The Heart Of The Empire…

It would appear that there is no possibility of carrying a knife in London – or possibly in any other part of the UK. They are so worried that the citizens will stab each other that they are removing all possibility of it.

Of course, this will be somewhat of  partial measure, as we have discovered – by careful scientific experiments – that it is possible to stab people with other things. The local criminals here in Western Australia seem to carry a great many screwdrivers and I daresay there are any number of sharp combs and other implements to hand nearly everywhere one goes. I favour my heavy brass-bound walking stick when dressed for an evening, and my Gerber folder when taping up wires and lighting rigs out in the photo world. At home, of course the good old butcher’s knife and the Swedish feather are always to hand. The swivel gun, mortar, rifled musket,and crossbow have all been sold off or given to other people so they do not figure in the equation. One hardly needs them in our suburb.

And that brings a question to mind of what sort of people are in the UK – to require such stringency. It cannot be a case of race – we have every variety of human in our street and we never stab each other. We do not run each other over in motor cars to promote religious belief, either, though I can count the adherents of 6 separate faiths in the street and can guess at a couple more. There is something to be said for living in the colonies…

I’m glad did my UK travelling some decades ago – when it was safe to walk the streets. I now quite prefer Singapore or Japan…where it is safe to walk the streets. Perhaps the British should think of importing more Singaporeans or Japanese to their island to improve the stock…

Mary O’Nette

I am deriving a great deal of pleasure and interest through my use of social media – but then you have to remember that I also used to have a good time shooting gophers on my Uncle Jude’s farm in Montana.

In my defence then, I was young and uncaring – in my defence now, I have grown older…

My current savage amusement is watching people jerk, bounce, and twist to the impact of memes – the preferred ammunition of the smarmy and righteous. The spectacle is made all the more enjoyable by the realisation that the victims are people of intelligence -and that in most cases they are willing targets. They stand up on the psychological parapet and try to attract the snipers.

Do you want someone to think the way you do? Meme them.

Want them to condemn something for your benefit?  Hand them a loaded meme and slip the safety off.

Want to look smarter, cooler, prettier, or finer than you really are? Meme your way to it. No-one will dare question you if they are looking down the barrel of a meme.

And the best part is you can make the victims think that they are all unique – and all in exactly the same way. One meme will fit all.

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