Boys will be Boys
Boys the world over have a common denominator - a sense of adventure and inventive imaginations. Whilst the youth of Badbea did not have the scope of those in the populous areas, they did not lack in spirit or adventure.
The rocks swarmed with thousands of sea-fowl in the summer. We could climb the rocks like squirrels. Often do I wonder how so few accidents happened to us.
The game laws were very strictly enforced upon us. Offenders were first subjected to the usual course of law, and if householders, they were driven off the estate at the next term. If not householders but living with their parents, the parents were visited with the sins of the children, turned out of their house and land, and no rest found for the soles of their feet on the estate. My parents were very much against the use of a gun by any of us, lest, in an unguarded moment, we might be tempted to break the law, game being then very plentiful.
|Straw in a barn at Laidhay|
On one occasion we had concealed a gun under some straw in the barn where a younger member of the family found it. He was not the length of being able to use a gun, and not knowing it was loaded, he held it over the lower half of the door and pulled the trigger. The gun went off about the ears of several onlooker children. Luckily all escaped unhurt, but a couple of hens fell victim to the rashness of this child.
Old Rusty Gun Barrel
Our firearms were of a very primitive sort. An old rusty gun barrel that no rational being would pick up from the refuse heap would put us into ecstasies, and in a very short time we would have it cleaned and mounted in a stock of our own handicraft, ready for sport.
We sometimes risked a shot at a hare on the sly.
Red Davies and the Stuffed Hare
There was a youth of the name David Bruce, 'Red Davies' as he was called in the place. He was a few years our senior, and, we thought, did not treat us with due respect at all times. He was very fond of the gun and thought himself better than any of us. One day we snared a hare, stuffed the skin with grass and laid it down very near to a hare's natural position amongst the heather. A messenger was dispatched to Davie telling him there was a hare on the face of the brae. Davie came in all haste with his gun loaded, and came with the messenger to where we were pretending to watch the movements of the hare. Davie crept along the ground for some distance, took aim, and fired, after which we took to our heels. Davie ran forward and lifted what he supposed was a dead hare, when, lo and behold, it was only a stuffed hare skin! We took good care that he did not forget the exploit for many a long day.
Source: Alan Roydhouse unpublished 1977. This article was published by Alexander Gunn but the Northern Ensign original is missing. Alan Roydhouse had access to many of Gunn’s articles while he was resident in Helmsdale in the nineteen seventies.