Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Today is Shrove Tuesday, so this evening we rather swapped places; that is, I made and cooked the pancakes, and Ann took over the photography department. I'd just tossed (and caught) the first one when Ann took the above picture, and in the photo below, I'm tucking into the fourth one. I must confess that for the first time I can remember, when I tossed the third one - I DIDN'T catch it - it went on the floor (Oh the shame of it !!!!) I think I must be skidding a bit. All the rest went allright. I suppose that we get out of practice when we only excercise a skill annually. I think a new Act should be passed proclaiming a Shrove Tuesday every threemonths, so that we all get more practice (and MORE pancakes). We eat ours the traditional way, i.e. with a squeeze of lemon, muscovado sugar, then rolled up and a little castor sugar sprinkled along the top. I don't think it can be improved on.
Now to the answer about yesterday's mystery object. The point about the object illustrated yesterday is that it is a sturdy, reliable pistol; BUT, if you examine the lock closely, you'll find it has a plain, unsophisticated (albeit workmanlike) lock. The only real outward sign of this is the lack of a bridle to the frizzen (i.e. the steel), but there are several other small signs of a lack of refinement that usually went into officers' or duelling pistols. This one was made for the protection of a gentleman's coach. The coach guard was usually armed with a blunderbuss, more often than not a brass barrelled one. The point about the brass barrel, as most of you spotted, is that travelling in English weather, they were less subject to corrosion than iron. This led to brass barrels being used at sea or when travelling in a horse drawn carriage. They were issued (as anti highwayman devices) to a liveried footman, or more probably a liveried outrider to a private carriage. In other words it was a servant's pistol. The usual name for them, and they are fairly rare items, is therefore 'livery pistols'. When they were made they probably cost about a quarter of what would have to be spent on duelling pistols. The same is still true. When such a weapon comes up for sale it probably makes between a third and a quarter the price of a good dueller. For me it is a part of our social history.