Saturday, 28 July 2012

Conversations In Gun Shops Pt1


Been a while, no? Work, money, girls, yah di yah di yah.Getting back into it, more posts to come. Soon.

This one took place a while back, I was dropping an air rifle off for servicing at a well known north london specialist where I found the proprietor standing behind the counter with a look of world weariness barley concealed behind a veneer of shopkeeperly bonhomie.

On the 'punter' side of the counter was blading man in his late forties, wearing those nasty multi coloured beach trousers, a red wife-beater, and three wrist watches. Yep three wrist watches - the internationally recognised symbol of a nutter.

No sooner had I popped my weapon on the counter [really your minds!] when we were somehow conjoined in conversation. Well I say 'conversation' he was ranting and I was nodding in disbelief. The proprietor allowed himself a sigh of relief.

Edited Highlights:

I'm a mercenary.
I've just got back from Egypt.
I was the winner of a gun fight in a police station on the Iraqi border.
I was shot with 7.62x39 rounds here and here [points to cigarette burns on his arm]
The Bedouin saved me by giving me 13 pints of their own blood.
I'm on my way to Hollywood
I'm an armourer for the movies
You can read all about it in my forthcoming book.

By now I'm backing towards the door, 3watches' eyes are getting wilder as he warms to his subject

3watches: 'You can tell them you've met The Bear'
SBW: 'Rest assured, I will'

More soon
SBW

35 comments:

Hippo said...

You don't just meet them in gunsmiths. You should have seen what it was like in the French Club on the Ilha of Luanda in the early Nineties. American journalist and author Karl Maier wrote an excellent article for one of the US broadsheets entitled, 'Black Pouched Pistol Packers'

Chas S. Clifton said...

You forgotonly the part about how HM Government had awarded him special medals and commendations, which he could not show you because they were secret.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hippo

I've always wanted to be the barman in a place like that
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Chas
The best bit was the look on the shopkeep's face, Priceless!
SBW

Hippo said...

Chas, I don't think a US citizen would be entitled to awards from HM Government (actually the awards are from HM).

SBW, I will have a vacancy at Fat Hippo's soon...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hippo
It will be a good life - the punters, their happy smiling faces flushed with drink. You the welcoming yet slightly enigmatic host, myself as part Jeeves, part psychologist in residence, collector of anecdotes, and of course chronicler of the bar's history
SBW

PS I challenge you to a weekly cook-off in front of a live audience.

Hippo said...

A weekly cook off in front of a live audience? How's that going to work then?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hippo

I guess it starts with whoever is there that evening but as its fame progresses, and we open a youtube channel people will come from far and wide to watch two chubby bon-viveur drunkenly muttering over a hot stove.

SBW
PS Looking forward to meeting the pup

Exploriment said...

You could fill a book with “Stupid Shit Overheard at the Gun Counter.” And the ignorant dumbasses are on both sides of the counter.

Exploriment said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJNMl3rAyOg&NR=1&feature=endscreen

Hippo said...

I see how it works now!

My brother arrives on Thursday and amongst the ton of kit he is bringing out for me is a small waterproof digital camcorder...

So shortly, my tubby little impetuous friend, I will be able to accept your foolish challenge, ptuh!!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hippo
Whlie you're opening a can of beans I'll be opening a can of whup-ass
Bring it on
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Exploriment

That's HILARIOUS a whole genre of them too
Thanks
SBW

Chas S. Clifton said...

Hippo, since the incident took place in London, I presumed that "Bear" was British.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

The piece hippo mentioned is here
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/out-of-angola-beware-the-black-pouch-pistolpacker-1502396.html

SBW

Hippo said...

Thanks for the link, it was nice to read the story again after all those years. Blimey, 1993, have I been here that long?

I worked for one of the companies mentioned. It and all its employees were expelled in January 1998. I ran the Rear Party to get everyone to the airport safely and secure the vehicles before disappearing into the musseques to be hidden by friends. I recall sitting there with the three radios I had nicked so I could cover all three channels listening to them looking for me. Apparently the departure of the plane was delayed several hours because of me! I visisted every single guard post over the next 36 hours telling our Angolan staff to stand their posts and I guaranteed that the clients would pay their salaries if they did so. I was scared, of course, that seeing their 97 strong expatriate management team expelled (I was number 3, callsign Delta Three, Delta meaning Director) there would be anarchy. I had to keep moving as I knew some of the guards would tip off the authorities so I was pretty bloody tired, pretty bloody filthy and bloody hungry. When I got to the de Beers residence, the MD was hosting a dinner party for the head honchos from London and they insisted I bathed, gave me a change of clothes, fed me (I ate real fast under the disconcerting gaze of one of the guests, a really gorgeous young lady who was eating me with her eyes but much as I wanted to, I knew I hadn't the time), then the MD, who was a tall bloke, gave me a bunk over the back garden wall so that I could leg it through the park as the police were already out the front waiting for me. As I went over, he told me that if I could work out a way of being able to stay, I could have a job with de Beers.

I was thinking about that when, in the pitch dark, I fell into a deep, and I mean deep, ditch washed out by the rain and dropped my pistol. I could hear the police looking for me, they even fired a few wild shots presumably to intimidate me but I had to find the pistol in the dark first before crawling the length of the ditch and climbing out at the Alvalade end of the park. Those nice clothes. I looked like a fucking urchin!

All the guards stood their posts though and all the guards, as I promised them, were paid. Most important, all the clients abandoned by my former employer remained safe. When I say 'abandoned' I say that because instead of accepting the inevitable loss of their Angolan assets and negotiating a phased withdrawal of expatriates and an organised handover to the Angolans, they chartered a 727, called a meeting of all their clients and called Force Majeure and bugged out leaving them to their fate. For chunky ex SAS types, they struck me as pretty fucking windy. For that crucial 36 hour period, the security of dozens of Embassies and multi-nationals was held together by a disheveled and very, very scared ex logistics officer. But one thing you don't do is abandon your clients.

To be fair to my ex employers, they did offer me and my family seats on the plane and a guarantee of continued employment but I refused and volounteered to run the rear party instead. I remember the lovely Irish PA saying to me, 'But they will kill you, Tom' and me replying, 'Maybe so, but if I bugged out, I'd never be able to live with myself afterwards'.

Those 36 hours gave this old alcoholic recluse his thoroughly undeserved reputation.

And I still have the pistol. A CZ 83 in 7.65mm. Shoots good straight out of the box.

Hippo said...

Chas, Americans do turn up in the most unusual of places but I suppose you do have a point...

Steve Bodio said...

It is probably true of most subjects, but I notice it particularly re guns: what perverse law leads ignorant blowhards to accost the most knowledgeable person in the room and then lecture them for a half an hour with untruths and bombastic, loudly stated misunderstandings (usually received with gracious nods and resigned smiles even as the poor expert looks desperately for an exit...)

I have seen this time and time again-- don't think I could be so polite!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Steve

I was just sitting drinking a second morning coffee and thinking about this when i opened the laptop.

Bicycles, and hi-Fi both seem to produce massive amounts of pomposity, but there is something special about gun pomposity and particular the 'calibre wars'. When I was first interested James M summed it up for me
JM: "they all have their pet calibre and basically believe that all other calibres should be ilegal'

The bit that interests me is the the way the 'gun nut' is the place where radical anti-conformist and orthodoxy loving super conservative meet.

Do you remember Mullins the coke wars guy? Despite having chosen 'new coke' several times in blind taste tests, he still appeared on any news outlet that would have him decrying the evil corporation for changing the recipe and saying it was un-american to even have new-coke in the house. He preferred the sweeter taste of the new stuff but even that wasn't enough to get him through the prison walls of his own certainty.

SBW

Henry Mitchel said...

Oh? That's too thrilling.. haha

Sahil said...

Good times! Along with the complete whack jobs like you've encountered, there are also the countless morons dishing out semi-professional legal advice in gun laws and regulations. I swear that every gun gun nut there "knows a cop" who told them you can carry so-and-so or you don't have to do this or that!

Kelly said...

That was hilarious. I want to meet the bear!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Henry
GLad you liked it and wellocme to the campfire
More of the same on the way
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Sahil

This one will run and run I've got a few more gunshop tales to tell
SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Kelly

I've kind of regretted not taking his number myself, comedy gold!
SBW

Moel said...

You do meet some odd sorts, remember a guy trying to sell me a well used SBS 410(advertised as a 410 air rifle), he seemed oblivious to the fact that one requires a SGC to have one, well after all he had just brought it back from the 'Stan', where he had been doing 'close protection', tosser was even wearing a Taliban Hunting Club T Shirt - walked away from that deal.......

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Moel

Thanks for getting in touch [from the other side of the counter].
SBW

Exploriment said...

I was in travel book store in the city I grew up in a bunch of years back.

Some guy goes up to the counter and asks if they have any "combat survival books"?
One of the women behind the counter mentions the "SAS (pronounces it sass - I'll forgive her cause she's a friend) Survival Manual."
"Nah, that's no good. I'm looking for books on martial arts and killing techniques. (Yeah like this is something a travel bookstore is going to carry.) I'm a 'lootenant" in the 'Black Watch Special Forces' and I teach how to kill people with my bare hands, stuff that's so gruesome we can't even talk about it."

Well needless to say, I really couldn't let this one pass. I'm a nobody, and maybe it wasn't my place to say anything, but he was too pitiful to not make squirm.

Walked up behind him.

"Wow so you're a 'lootenant' (for those not in the know, in Britain or Canada, it's pronounced 'leftenant') in the Black Watch Special Forces huh? Is that reg force or reserves?"

And take a wild guess as to the whopper he came out with next. Yup:
"I can't talk about it."

Can you believe it?

"So let me get this straight. You can tell these store clerks how you're some bad ass 'lootenant' in the 'Black Watch Special Forces' who teaches "gruesome" bare hands killing techniques that are so gory that you can't divulge details, but when someone asks you if this unit is regular or reserves, you "can't talk about it?"

I followed this up by making a jerk off motion. (Now I know I should have been frightened of his "bare handed killing prowess" and all....) "I know some guys in the Black Watch Regiment, and they've never made mention of the Black Watch "Special Forces." I guess it must be top secret or something."

The loser turns around and walks very quickly right out of the store. Just like that. Poof. Gone. Like a cockroach that had the light shone on it.

It was pretty obvious to the two clerks right from the start that he was full of bullshit, but they were too polite to say anything. Good thing I have no such compunctions.

The weird thing is, I hear on the radio two days later that some guy from the States was arrested north of Toronto, claiming to be a Green Beret officer. Police were trying to determine his movements and whereabouts in the previous few days. Well I'll be darned. I call the OPP, get shunted around, finally talk to a detective, mention this ass clown, tell him what he said, and gave him a description.
"Well thanks for being vigilant, but no, different guy."

I saw a picture in the paper, and it was indeed a different guy. Wow more than one retard with a flimsy fabrication about being some badass commando

DaggaBoy said...

I slink into most gun shops and try to leak out under the door unnoticed to save myself the grief of a potential encounter. The last time I got caught in conversation at the local I made the mistake of saying g'day to a fellow sitting on my side of the counter on a three-legged stool.

He looked up, held up the .50BMG action he'd been fondling it and shook it at the sky, "...built this with my own two hands in the '70s..."

"What do you do with that around here mate?" I adked the glassy eyed, white haired man.

"Shoot sambar deer with it a long way away. Gonna neck it down to .22 for rabbits. Hey you're that safari bloke on the wall there, you know I can shoot 300 hogs in a couple of days out at Yuntabulla!"

"What?" I didn't hang around for the explanation and made good my escape.

Moel said...

Hi SBW, this was a private sale! I'm a doctor not a RFD but suspect it would be an interesting job .......

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Exploriment

Funny isn't it that although its very easy to join the French Foreign Legion [bit harder to stay a member - training seems a little er 'rigorous'] none of these saddos seem to be able to get themselves to the 'legion recrute'.

Oh and just to beat the Bambi Basher to the point 'Sass' is a common acronym-isation of SAS.

SBW

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Daggaboy

Ah yes the 'home 'smith' another species of gun shop hero.

SBW

PS liked your blog

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Moel

several people have told me I've missed my vocation and should apply for the RFD ticket. I'm not sure though as future episodes of Conversations In Gunshops will show it all looks like a lot of hassle for not a lot of cash.

SBW

Chas S. Clifton said...

"Shoot sambar deer with it a long way away. Gonna neck it down to .22 for rabbits."

Some people that I know might say that with a straight face just to see how long they could keep you on the conversational hook.

I think I shall keep "neck it down to .22 for rabbits" for future use myself.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Chas
It is a great line
SBW