I'd been looking for ideas to create more interest in politics amongst the young people of Montgomeryshire. Something along the lines of the TV debates that invigorate the US Presidential Election. Mark Johannson and his wife Shirley, who are working to re-establish a village show at Four Crosses next month did ask me if I would be willing to enter a contest with Lembit Opik next month involving a 'Bucking Bull' - at least that's what I thought he said. Not for me I thought, though believe this or not, but I have actually ridden a bucking bull - the rather gentle Hereford with big horns which used to 'run' with our dairy herd when I was a young lad on the family farm.
Anyway, Charles Moore has come up with the obvious answer in his column in today's Telegraph. Why not an old fashioned dual. Charles was reviewing 'Pistols at Dawn' by John Campbell, a story based on the eight most famous duals in history. The last time a political dispute was settled by actual resort to pistols was 200 years ago, during the Napoleonic wars. The British Foreign Secretary, George Canning had sought to dump the all the blame for a failed mission on Lord Castlereagh. The latter was not having it and wrote to Canning demanding an apology and 'satisfaction' - which in those days meant a dual. The challenge was accepted. The two men met on Putney Heath, and incredibly, both of them missed. Castlereagh insisted on another go, and at the second time of asking, 'winged' Canning by shooting him in the thigh. Didn't do him any long term harm though because he later became Prime Minister.
One problem is that I don't own a gun. I suppose I could borrow that Bren Gun that the Royal British Legion in Welshpool are always bringing out on display. I could let Lembit have 'the full nine yards' (which is where this saying comes from). Another problem is that I don't trust the Lib Dems not to resort to dirty tricks. For example, I might swing my Bren Gun around and see him standing there wearing 'The Mother of all Wigs'. I'd have a bullet in my thigh or worse before I could stop laughing enough to take aim. On second thoughts, maybe I should ring Mark and ask him what the 'Bucking Bull' contest involves.