Big Girl’s Blouse

I’m often uncomfortable, as in fear for for my safety uncomfortable. Sitting in passenger seats in fast moving cars, sitting in passenger seats in slow moving cars, walking through Eastbourne town centre at eight on a Friday night, scuba-diving, drinking milk that’s a day out of date … that sort of thing.

But around guns I’ve always reckoned myself pretty cool. Apart from the time at school a four-foot psycho called Wingnut explained to me that with his blank-firing cadet’s rifle that if he got really close and discharged it directly into my ear then the force would be enough to evacuate my brain out the other side. (He went on to be expelled for disabling a milk-man with a high-speed ball-bearing.)

I’ve hung out with former child soldiers in Cambodia (see picture) and fired off automatic machine guns. Didn’t even flinch.

But I was particularly uncomfortable on Friday night when, as the first arrival at Tippler’s Bond party, somebody went the whole hog and discharged some sort of fire-arm about three feet away. And it wasn’t a cap-gun. So I was the first departure as well.

It was, apparently, a starting pistol. Don’t care. Call me old-fashioned, but I remember the days when you could walk into a bar in Brussels and the only danger came from paranoid drug-dealing Albanians with sharp knives and big fists …