Sunday 11th March 2012-03-13
Today was a beautiful day. Then, a shotgun pellet hit me! Luckily it was only one and at low velocity.
You can imagine the sort of questions that were going through my mind.
However let me start at the beginning.
We had arranged to go for a walk along the Canal with Pippa and her two sons; Mathew and Adam aged 4 and 2 years. Great boys, full of fun, questions, imagination and that amazing bright, openness that small beings have to the world and what is happening.
The canal, The Leeds Liverpool, is the very close by and used by many for recreation of all kinds. There are always people running, strolling with children, walking the dog, cycling, fishing, bird watching, chugging past in long boats and generally messing about. As the weather was bright and clear there were a lot of us doing the same sort of Sunday afternoon things.
As the terrain is flat it is easy walking for everyone.
Our part of the canal is like a long narrow park running between houses. To the south is the River Aire and to the North Ilkey Moor. After the canal flows along about a mile from our staring point the town of Keighley is to our right. From here on the number of houses become smaller and the whole area is more rural with golf clubs and farms.
There were numbers of sheep and lambs grazing in some of the fields. The warm sun and scenery was creating a typical English spring Sunday.
The six of us, Dot our son Sam, Pippa, Mathew Adam and myself were walking and talking and just enjoying the company and wonderful scenery. Even the bell-less cyclist seemed to be in good humour and polite as the slowed or stopped to pass us. Cyclist without bells can be something of an annoyance to all walkers and dog owners.
As the terrain became more rural the smell of animal manure being spread became obvious. Mathew immediately wanted to know what this was and why. I explained to him that the farmers spread the “muck” on the fields to help the grass grow. We then watched a Land Rover on the track below us pulling a cattle box slowly along to a farm below us. Farms and their buildings in this area can date back several hundred years and many of them have been bought up and been redeveloped as out of town homes for city dwellers seeking rural retreats. But not this one, it has certainly been there for at least three centuries and looks well worn and in need of some maintenance.
Then we spotted the heaps of cow muck in the farmyard. Matthew was somewhat appalled by the huge piles waiting to be spread on the fields. I promised to show him my bags of horse manure when we returned home. He was quite intrigued as to why I had horse poo!
Somebody said “There’s a man with a gun!” I think it was Dot.
Below us, standing by a barn was a man facing away from us with a long barrelled shotgun. He seemed to be wearing clothing which blended well with the scenery. In fact it would have been difficult for me to see him unless his position had been made clear to me.
He was standing stock still, his gun held in both hands pointing downwards. He looked to be in a state a focused concentration. Alert for any signs of vermin or game. At this point we were behind him and out of his line of sight. He could well have been aware of us for we were chatting and Adams push along bike, easier to keep a 2 year old happy on a walk, was rather noisy.
A minute or so later we had walked about another 50 metres or so stopping to admired a dragon illustration on a canal barge. Pippa, Adam and Dot were a little further ahead. Sam, Mathew and I were just parallel with some leaved bushes, most other trees still being bare from autumn moulting.
The leaves beside me twitched violently.
Something hit the side of my face just by my ear.
It stung like some one had flicked me with a large elastic band.
I realised immediately that it was a shot from the gun we had seen below held by the man near the barn.
It had hit me.
I realised almost at once that the pellet probably ricocheted from one of the trees as a direct hit could have caused serious damage.
A state of confusion blurred my mind.
Had I been shot at, or was it just fluke? Why had the man fired towards a footpath with families walking past?
Could this be the start of one of those killing sprees that have happened recently?
The man did look sinister in his camouflage standing still by the barn.
We walked away from the area warning approaching walkers of what we had experienced.
Then I decided that I better phone the police. If it was an accident it needed reporting.
If worse it needed dealing with. Now!
One final question for you.
What was I experiencing, Fear or Anxiety?