Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fat Woman and the sweetest gift of all

Fat Woman has a pretty good relationship with Personal Trainer. As well as their working relationship Personal Trainer and Fat Woman occasionally have coffee together and on special occasions go and shoot clay pigeons. In fact, it was Personal Trainer who took Fat Woman shooting after her initial shotgun skills course and later taught her how to shoot a driven bird. When Fat Woman isn't looking on Personal Trainer as her own personal SS torturer, she regards him as an extra nephew to spoil with cake and little gifts from holiday. Personal Trainer resents any suggestion that he is a child, up until there is a present or something good to eat on offer.

Personal Trainer likes food. Fat Woman found that Personal Trainer was a great tester for any kind of project, especially cake. Personal Trainer is inordinately fond of chocolate cake. Just before Personal Trainer had his 21st birthday he expressed a wish for a giant chocolate cake like the one Bruce Bogtrotter eats in Matilda. As Fat Woman is sentimental about milestone birthdays she provided what is known as the Ultimate Chocolate Cake, a chocolate sponge layered and covered with chocolate ganache. Fat Woman even decorated the cake and added a candle The following year all Personal Trainer wished for was the same thing again. It had to be made with 74% dark chocolate, not the 60% that Fat Woman personally prefers, and it had to be made in well advance as the cake reaches perfect four days after baking. Personal Trainer claims that the only sweet thing he has eaten that is better than the Ultimate Chocolate Cake is Fat Woman's banoffee pie.

Fat Woman is about to retire from cake provision for Personal Trainer has taken up baking. Fat Woman smiles at Personal Trainer's comments on how much it costs to produce a batch of brownies. Fat Woman has been hearing tales of Personal Trainer's baking disasters (a tablespoon each of bicarbonate of soda and baking powder make a mess of your oven floor), his purchases (a blender with a whisk attachment) and has seen pictures of his successes. The most impressive success so far was Personal Trainer's chocolate cake. Fat Woman received a picture of an impeccably glossy chocolate cake topped nearly with chocolate squares. Fat Woman sent back compliments and good wishes that the cake be as impressive as it looked.

On Monday after training Fat Woman's personal trainer presented her with an enormous piece of chocolate cake and encouraged her to eat it straight away. Personal Trainer even facilitated this happening by presenting Fat Woman with a fork.

Fat Woman has the best personal trainer in the whole world.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Fat Woman and the line that goes down

Fat Woman is enjoying learning to shoot. Fat Woman likes clay pigeon shooting so much that Thin Husband has put her on rations to prevent binge-shooting. Fat Woman is now getting quite good at learning new sports and has recruited a shooting coach. Actually, Shooting Coach started teaching Thin Husband first, but as Fat Woman has to organise the lessons and take Thin Husband's gun to the ground for him she figured she wasn't going to miss out.

Fat Woman had spent a box of cartridges failing to get the better of a rising going away bird and thought it time to seek expert advice. At Fat Woman's lesson Shooting Coach explained how to shoot the presentation, and Fat Woman managed to break a few clays. Then Shooting Coach got Fat Woman to break the clays with a less measured and more instinctive reaction. Everything was going well, until Fat Woman lost all ability to shoot and missed and missed and missed and missed again. Eventually Shooting Coach, who likes to end a lesson on a killed bird, allowed Fat Woman to give up. Shooting Coach went off to coach Thin Husband, and Fat Woman shed her shooting gear and went off to have a cup of tea and no biscuits.

Half an hour later Fat Woman had drunk her tea, inspected all the guns for sale and was starting to twitch. Fat Woman hadn't intended to shoot more before lunch but it seemed a terrible waste of time to be stuck in a club house that smelled far too strongly of deep fat frying when the weather was fine and there were cartridges waiting to be shot. Fat Woman hates self-buttoning, but she had noticed that the ground had a DTL (Down The Line) layout with microphone controlled pull. Fat Woman thought this was the perfect opportunity to get some private, unobserved shooting time to practice what she had just been taught. Fat Woman doesn't mind being useless at things but when she is learning something by trial and error she prefers not to be observed.

So Fat Woman went back out to the car, suited up again, went back to the clubhouse to get a ClayMate counter (and a telling off for bringing her gun in with her), then went off to the DTL layout only to spend five minutes looking for somewhere to plug in the counter.

Eventually Fat Woman gave up on the grounds that she is a bit slow sometimes but isn't entirely dim, and went back to the car to stow the gun, back to reception to ask if she was being a bit stupid, back to the car to get the gun out again then back to the DTL layout to await the arrival of the ground staff member to button for her. Fat Woman had time to comes to terms with the loss of a completely private practice session, reasoning that anyone who works at a shooting ground has seen it all before and has no interest in what each individual customer is shooting. Fat Woman is not keen on the vanity of self-conciousness; at best she finds it tiresome in others, at worst she considers it narcissistic.

Eventually a member of staff turned up. Fat Woman asked to shoot 25 birds from the middle stand on the grounds that she only really wanted to practice going away rising birds. The anonymous staff member thought this would be fine so after a few minutes of setting up Fat Woman was finally ready to sink into practicing what she had just learned. Fat Woman had recently studied diagrams on hold DTL points so was ready to give the game another bash. Fat Woman set her feet, mounted her gun, set her hold point, called pull and shot a target twice in quick succession, and then found that Thin Husband and Shooting Coach had appeared behind her.

After ruining Fat Woman's mental focus with an unexpected appearance Shooting Coach was nice enough to actually coach Fat Woman through the rest of her round, and said that Fat Woman ended up hitting roughly half of the birds. Fat Woman knows this isn't great for DTL, but considered it an improvement on her earlier performance was pleased she had actually learned her lesson. Fat Woman was feeling much more confident about DTL by the end of this and planned some happy times amusing herself at gun club with the nice quiet mic-operated DTL set up.

The next time Fat Woman had a chance for a round of DTL she started off by hitting four out of the first five birds with her first barrel. Fat Woman was quite pleased with this, especially as she had shot a proper round of DTL just twice before, once with Personal Trainer in her fourth hour of shooting when she scored three points, and once nearly a year later when she scored only slightly more. Fat Woman was therefore very pleased about her 4/5 hits, especially as she had forgotten about being allowed to use the second barrel when she missed with the first one. So Fat Woman moved to the next stand and called "Pull!".

Nothing happened.

Fat Woman called "Pull!" again in a louder voice. Still nothing happened. Then Fat Woman called "Pull!" really loudly - and Fat Woman has a very loud voice when she projects properly - and nothing happened. It wasn't until Fat Woman turned her natural squeaky soprano voice into a deep, deep contralto and bellowed "Pull!" like she was Pavarotti that she could actually get stand 2 to work.

Ironically, the same stand was entirely happy to count Fat Woman closing her gun as a call.

By the end of the round Fat Woman had developed a very strange holler, calling "Pull!" in a way that sounded not dissimilar to a cow lowing. Having to call for a bird multiple times did not have the greatest effect on Fat Woman's shooting, but she considered she had compensated well, hitting two thirds.

The Gun Club office were not surprised at Fat Woman having had problems with the microphones. Apparently if the mics are set sensitively enough to pick up the higher female voices at the height they are displayed at, they are then too sensitive and send out lots of no-birds. Fat Woman is writing this off as another example of entrenched sexism in the shooting world. If Fat Woman makes a fuss about this then Fat Woman is obviously the problem.

No long after this Fat Woman shot DTL at a different ground and did so badly that friends reassured her that it was "a very hard ground to shoot at". Fat Woman appreciates the kindness, but is happy to own up to the fact that (1) she completely forgot her hold points until stand 5 (2) she forgot that DTL birds start dropping fairly quickly (3) she has no idea how to hit a dropping DTL bird (4) she basically shot like a pig with trotters. Fat Woman has a reasonably thick skin and had not disgraced herself in the earlier SportTrap, so put DTL down as one of the things she has yet to learn.

Fat Woman confessed to Shooting Coach that she hadn't done very well at DTL and might not have been the best advert for his tuition that day. Fat Woman is not used to having to say this kind of thing to Shooting Coach. Usually Fat Woman starts a lesson by bouncing happily up to Shooting Coach and announcing that she has practiced what he taught her at her last lesson and has been fairly successful with it and has a tale of how the latest skill came in useful. This time Fat Woman was a coward and dropped a throwaway comment into an email on the grounds that Shooting Coach is terribly busy and might not have noticed.

Shooting Coach is turning out to be as sharp as Personal Trainer and doesn't miss a trick.

Shooting Coach's response was initially sympathetic, in tone if not in words, but surprised Fat Woman by pointing out that trying to do every shooting discipline would probably result in her going along the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none route. Fat Woman had not considered that there was any possibility of her being a master of anything, but considered that if Shooting Coach hadn't been able to teach her DTL, she wasn't a natural at it and it was actually a relief to be off the hook as far as future sessions were concerned.

Fat Woman has not given up on DTL entirely but has certainly shelved it until such time that Shooting Coach thinks she has learned Sporting well enough not to be led astray by rising going away birds, maintained lead and orange-coloured clays, or alternately until Sporting Coach throws up his hands and admits that she might as well go and try being a good all-rounder because she isn't going to get any better at Sporting. Fat Woman is just sorry that the skeet range doesn't have the same voice-operated facilities as DTL, and expects that Thin Husband will be equally as sorry when she drags him around to button for her.