Well, okay, of course not. As you well know it's been illegal to hunt someone like me for several years now, though I've little doubt a few there would still like to rid the countryside of such pinko vermin. However, it is true that we were surrounded by the pack just before the Hunt arrived, and indeed before Bobby even heard the dogs. Which is to say we were not challenging prey. And I have to say, especially considering they were presumably out hunting, the dogs were incredibly well-mannered.
As were the twenty or so riders who passed by thereafter. There was that rather embarrassing thing (as with parties of ramblers) where the whole group says hello to you as they pass – once for them, but twenty times for you to reply. A few said “good morning” and several “good morning, sir”. There was two “lovely mornings”, one tip of a cap, and a final “so sorry to have ruined your walk.” Far from it.
I followed along behind them, at a respectful distance, imagining I was following the retinue of King Charles himself on the way to Boscobel (although on reflection they may have been running). We parted company at Kemberton Mill and I ambled along thinking idle nothings about packs and uniforms and belonging and ritual.
Fifteen minutes later, from completely the opposite direction, I came upon a stray hound, trotting along all alone, not a care in the world, vaguely heading towards the hunt, but in no hurry. He stopped to give Bobby a disdainful sniff – “What's that? A mongrel, are you really? Oh dear. Any totty around?“ - then meandered on his way. He made me feel very happy.