Earlier this year I wrote a defence of driven shooting and ended by saying I hoped my children would have a chance to participate in the sport one day. Believe it or not, I wasn’t fishing for invitations. It was intended as a piece of liberal-baiting, on the assumption that any left-wing prude who disapproves of grown men spending a day shooting game birds would find the prospect of children being inducted into this ‘barbaric’ practice even more appalling. But it has in fact led to several invitations, for which I’m very grateful.
The first was to spend a day grouse shooting in Yorkshire along with my three sons – an absurdly generous offer which I obviously could not turn down. Unfortunately, there was a complication. Caroline had arranged to go to Ireland for the weekend in question and our 14-year-old daughter, Sasha, was supposed to be staying with a friend. But at the last minute the arrangement fell through, which meant I had to text my host at 11.45pm and ask if it was OK if I brought Sasha along. He kindly said yes, pointing out that his own 14-year-old son would be there and speculating that they might get on.
Well, they did get on. No, no, not like that. On the day we arrived, they stayed up talking late into the night and the housekeeper overheard Sasha trying to persuade the boy to let her shave a couple of slits into his eyebrows. Now, this is not quite as bizarre as it sounds. Eyebrow slits, whereby you shave some vertical lines out of your eyebrows, are ‘on trend’ at the moment. Indeed, there is currently a debate raging in teen fashion magazines about whether they constitute ‘cultural appropriation’, since this is a look that was popularised by African-American rap artists. Nonetheless, the housekeeper thought it odd enough to pass on to the owner of the grouse moor. This led to a rather awkward conversation in which he told me my daughter had attempted to shave his son’s eyebrows off. ‘I thought you ought to know,’ he said. (To read more, click here.)