Chapter 3. Pop, Oh dear!


- Tony

Then came a succession of break open spring operated pop guns. These were available from Woolworths and came complete with a cork fixed to the trigger guard with a length of string. Once home the string was immediately removed allowing the cork to fly freely to its target. These guns would also propel any other object small enough to fit down the barrel; a stone or marble.

They were poorly made imports with 'foreign' stamped on them. The country of origin was presumably not important, you were just to be warned that they were not of sound British manufacture!

I remember vividly the sheer excitement of being taken to Hayes to spend my seventh birthday money on a superior double barreled pop gun made in Britain by Palitoy. It had extra thick springs for a louder pop and came complete in its own cardboard box with a rabbit hunter on the front.

Travelling home on the bus my mother would not let me take it out of the box in case it frightened anybody. This in itself endowed the new gun with a kind of deadliness. I cradled it in my arms with the picture outwards so that all the other passengers could see what I had. The man opposite said it looked just like a gun he had for shooting rabbits. I asked him if my gun could shoot a rabbit? After some consideration he said that it would probably really hurt one and make it run away. Satisfied with this honourable answer that was given with a serious face, not an expression that was just making child talk, I had a mental picture of a big rough looking rabbit about to attack my aunties sweet peas, when I fire a cork that makes the coney do a backward somersault and run for its life.

When we got home I could hardly contain my excitement. It was one of those moments in life when you have everything you desire and look forward to nothing but that moment.

I don't know what came over my mother but in the kitchen she was busy putting things away and about to prepare lunch when she absent mindedly said "Go and shoot your Dad". Freudian slip perhaps but armed with her permission, I rushed upstairs. My father who was sleeping off his night shift got a point blank cork on the back of his head! You can imagine the explosion! My mother was heatedly admonished for buying me such a dangerous weapon and the pop gun was confiscated until the memory had cooled.

- Tony Sheppard