The well-connected head of a major brokerage firm and sometime advisor to government, The Broker, exuding an infectious bonhomie, is by far the most charismatic member of the team.
Urbane to a fault his arrival, accompanied by the waft of rich Cuban tobacco spiced with just a hint of the most exquisite lime pomade, brings to the proceedings an aura of affluence and wellbeing which far exceeds the unobtrusive pretensions of this pleasantly parochial shoot.
Popular with most guns and beaters alike he, unfailingly, on arrival, slips the keeper a couple of bottles of something ‘a bit special’ to slake thirsts and ease tired limbs in the beaters bothy at the end of their long and arduous day. The cynics among his fellow guns believe, that as with all things he may well be looking for some kind of preferential edge, when the birds begin to fly.
Never to be found wanting on matters of largesse, he tempts his fellow guns with the rich peaty tinctures of Scotland’s more remote and often unheard of island distilleries. Served in cut glass from a burr walnut cabinet in the back of his specially converted ‘shoot day conveyance,’ he is the master of manipulative hospitality.
One of the privileged elite, on first name terms with members of The Cabinet, Bankers, Diplomats, the occasional house trained Oligarch and dangerously beautiful wife, The Broker provides a delicious, sometimes salacious, if tenuous link with the capital’s distant corridors of confusion. His gossip, and it is no more than that, is strictly entre nous and designed to both intrigue and flatter his audience.
An accomplished, flamboyant and aggressively competitive shot he does however have a tendency to poach. It’s not unusual for those on neighbouring pegs to see their bird drop like a stone just as they prepare to mount their gun. His apologies after the fact are both abject and profuse, offered with such charm that few find themselves willing or even able to take issue.
One of the few, in fact his nemesis, was a guest and came in the form of what the more puerile of The Broker’s fellow guns are want, as they snigger into their port, to refer to as the Hunting Parson. In his youth he’d been the Padre attached to one of the more obscure African Mounted Rifle brigades. After two and a half years he’d emerged from the bush honed and hardened, able to ride like the devil and shoot like an angel. Having returned home after his time with the military he’d taken a living in hunting country where he preached his own robust form of religion and indulged his love of field sports.
On the first drive of the day neighbouring The Broker, the Parson had reason to turn the other cheek on three occasions and quickly got the measure of his man. Thereafter fiddling peg numbers in collusion with two accomplices, he dogged The Broker’s peg and mercilessly wiped his eye in a most unchristian manner. Only the final horn sounding the end of the day’s proceedings brought relief and by this time The Broker had, so the story is told by some of the more uncharitable guns, developed a most uncharacteristic nervous tic in his dominant eye and was a chastened shadow of his former confident self.
The shoot captain, a wily, seasoned old campaigner was quick to sooth ruffled feathers, but speculated in a moment of idle profundity as to the real reason for The Brokers involvement with his pleasant, sometime testing, but otherwise unpretentious shoot. There’d be some rich pickings amongst his guns he mused as he poured himself yet another generous dark peaty dram from some distant and hitherto undiscovered island distillery.
Convinced that The Broker’s humbling at the hands of the visiting Parson was merely a temporary setback he settled back to enjoy his generous and well-earned libation.
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on