Matt Lyver | www.mattlyver.co.uk
Cover Image by Zoe Warde-Aldam
Elly Gray | www.biteinto.net
Published in the UK by Talking Food Enterprises Limited.
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© Talking Food Enterprises Limited 2020
To the third edition of Talking Game
We are delighted to welcome you to the third annual edition of Talking Game, continuing our quest to encourage all to eat more game. With over fifty fabulous recipes, engaging articles, and interviews with a wide range of game enthusiasts, this issue really is a must have for the season and beyond.
Words by William Sitwell
A shoot day is so often about characters. There are your friends of course; a chance to catch up on jobs, marriages, kids. Old chums pick up from where they were last time and leave little time for niceties, the true sign of old English friendships being the amount of abuse levelled between one another.
There’s the shoot host, a chap usually wondering where the hell everyone is, why they can’t finish their breakfast and get their boots on and guns ready. There’s the cook; beavering away on lunch and hoping the guests – whose mantra is surely always ‘we eat what we shoot’ – will mind the exquisite prawn curry.
There are the SWAGS; the shoot wives and girlfriends, some of them tooled up themselves and usually far better shots than the boys. There are the beaters and the pickers-up. They can be an eclectic crowd of bedraggled-looking misfits and toothless yokels, the sprightly 80-something grandmother of your host with her youthful, out-of-control spaniels and a retired keeper dragging his elderly black lab behind the back gun.
And there’s the keeper. Often a man who never wears gloves because he never stops moving. And this is his show. He is like Sting, lead singer of the Police. He is singer and bass player, orchestrater and management. Worrier-in-chief he must have this crowd assembled before him, on time and in place and then he must pray that the planets align; that wind and weather will be drawn harmoniously to copse, wood and field and that humans and dogs will flush out birds in little fits and bursts as the drive ensues, flowing over the guns, who’d better damn well shoot straight for once.
Spare a thought for the keepers between seasons will you? Spare more than a thought for them this year as COVID-19 added a new layer of nightmarish complication to their spring and summer endeavours.
In this edition of Talking Game – where as ever wonderful recipes tempt us to eagerly grab our brace – we meet some of these shooting heroes. It’s wonderful to hear the stories of the likes of Billy Wilson, Nick Pacey, Kat Hutchinson and Nick Weston.
We all know such characters as these. And this year we are particularly indebted to them. As many heroically manage to operate let’s make sure we honour them generously with our final hand-shake at the end of the day and, for a change, try to actually connect with the birds they put up. //
William Sitwell runs the world’s smallest wine store: www.williamshousewines.com