What is the gun doing there? Is this a ‘Peak Oil doomer site’? Is it going to be full of talk about ‘guns and food and bunkers’ ?
Well yes and no. Yes, that’s a gun. It’s leaning against an old reversible plough that we found in the the courtyard here ten years ago. The plough will get its wheels fixed and will some day be pulled through the clay soil of Languedoc. The shotgun is of a similar vintage: it has been buried beneath a load of junk since we moved from Ireland nearly ten years ago. It belonged to my wife’s grandfather, an old IRA supporter in the ’20’s [note to the young and un-informed: the Official IRA was the ad-hoc army that opposed British rule during the early years of the 20th. century. The unofficial IRA were the ones who waged the no-holds-barred guerrilla war through the ’60’s to the ’90’s.]
We brought it to France as a family ‘heirloom’ – a curiosity from a distant past. I dug it up again the other day because it seemed to me to be a possible element in my future. I became aware that I might need to defend myself, or my wife, or our food-supply. And that if I followed the logic of what I was reading – then the future was not necessarily going to be a peaceable ‘hippy-type’ scenario. The interim future might in fact be messy and violent.
If I am capable of thinking the unthinkable, then I might have to imagine doing the unimaginable. The idea of putting up barbed-wire to protect my carrots is one thing: the possibility that I might have to defend my family with a gun that has no sights and hasn’t been fired in a hundred years . . .
So that gun is both real and symbolic. It serves as a reminder that pacifism is not one of my options, and that in this typical little French village of 500 people there are twenty serious and committed hunters. And that I might need to join A.C.C.A. [ Association Communale de Chasse Agréée ] and get my permit, and get something a little more accurate than that old blunderbuss.
The role of the hunter, and ‘les gens d’armes’ in French life is central to an understanding of this country, and is significant for us in this village. It will be given more space in a later post.