I hope you like this one.
I have to get rid of some vermin. So I decided to buy an air rifle, nothing too serious, just a decent make that I'd heard about.
So off I tootle to a specialist hunting shop about 20 miles from here. I open the door, ding-a-ling goes the little bell and I enter the empty shop, its silent walls lined with gun cabinets, decoys, fishing rods and camouflaged hunting jackets, each with around 160 pockets. Nothing. I stand and wait. Eventually the person who is presumably the owner comes out from the back room. He is about 45 and thick set. Now Piedmont folk aren't exactly known for their spontaneity and joie de vivre. His salutation was an almost imperceptible raising of his eyebrows. Not a grunt escaped his lips, greasy from the salami he had presumably been snacking on in the back.
I asked him if he had a Weihrauch 577 in stock. I had barely finished forming the question before his face was wreathed in the sort of broad smile that you might see on a lottery winner's face. He raised his arms heavenwards. "Such a good choice my friend, such a good choice!" For a terrible moment I thought he was going to vault the counter and allow me to taste the salami second-hand. "Such a rifle! Such German engineering! Buying a Weihrauch is an investment! You'll have to wait until the middle of February when the next shipment arrives. But the wait will be more than worth your while, my friend! A wonderful rifle!"
I asked him how much this particular rifle cost. He laid both hands on the glass-topped counter and his head dropped, as if he was examining his nails. "These German rifles just fly off the shelves my friend. They fly off the shelves! The 577 is a beauty, one of their flagship models!" He looked up at me, the smile hadn't left him. "It costs €340. I can maybe give you a little discount but...I don't know..maybe €5? Here's our card. Ring me at the end of January and I'll put your Weihrauch to one side my friend!" Ding-a-ling went the little bell as I left the shop.
What the bastard doesn't know is that Mrs Combo's cousin went to the same shop towards the end of last year, bought the same rifle, didn't ask for a discount, got a rifle case thrown in and paid €260.
It's my accent you see. I have the most dreadful English pronunciation so that some shopkeepers wet themselves either with joy and/or laughter as soon as I open my trap. Think of this bloke, in reverse.
Anyhoo, I'm buying my rifle via mail order from a shop in Blackpool. So there.
Sunday, 8 January 2012
I ate some cockerel last night. It was greeted at the table with unbridled joy amongst the assembled diners. Once an uncastrated rooster was fairly standard fare here but even in Italy, the capon (the castrated cockerel) is now more common. This old bird came from a local farm where it had been scratching around and generally ruling the roost for a couple of years. I don't know how much the kind hosts paid for it, but probably a premium. We had half of the fowl boiled and served with a parsley and garlic sauce and the other half roasted. It was quite delicious and surprisingly tender. They had probably cooked it for about three days. Going for seconds I was served the Parson's Nose which took some getting down I can tell you. All washed down with bottles and bottles of Barbera and Dolcetto.
Although as your correspondent is doing January yet again, I stayed on fizzy water. How many years is it now Mr Unmitigated? The January on-the-wagon thing does seem to be awfully popular now doesn't it? The only slight upside is that I felt like a spring chicken this morning.