Dom Parker, the star of C4’s Gogglebox, on shoot day hospitality, helping double amputees and machismo in the line.
Robert Cuthbert (RC): We’ve met before on a couple of shoot days, but I understand most of your sport is taken in Kent?
Dom Parker (DP): “Principally, yes. I was born and bred just outside Canterbury.”
RC: How many days did you shoot last season?
DP: “Last season was quiet for me – probably three days because of my Gogglebox filming commitments.”
RC: What was the highlight of last season then?
DP: “One of my days at Denne Hill where I usually shoot with Roddy Loder-Symonds. He has a fabulous family shoot close by.”
RC: What is your favourite shooting?
DP: “I take the shooting whatever it is but I prefer partridge as it suits my style. Generally, at the beginning of the season my accuracy is good and by the end it’s out of the window. I consider for too long. With partridge, I don’t have time to think about it. Towards the end of the season, you start to analyse everything. At the beginning I just get on and do it.”
RC: What guns do you use?
DP: “I have one gun I’ve had most of my life, a BSA. It’s a lovely, light side-by-side and quite heavily cast. It suits me beautifully. I bought it secondhand 30-odd years ago. I couldn’t tell you what date it is, but they don’t make them anymore. It just seems to fit me like a glove. I don’t really like shooting with anything else. It sits on my shoulder nicely and it presents the barrels almost perfectly.”
RC: Who introduced you to shooting?
DP: “I started shooting clays when I was about 11 at Greenfields in Canterbury. I don’t recall why. My father wasn’t a gun. I think it must have come from my maternal grandfather via my mother, not that my mother ever shot, but I remember her being instrumental in her delivering me to and from Greenfields. As to why, I think perhaps she thought it was appropriate because we lived in the country.”
RC: Have your children followed you?
DP: “Actually my daughter and my wife have just started to get into it. My daughter is 11 and she is very keen.”
RC: Running The Salutation (the-salutation.com), rated the best B&B in Britain by the FT, do you analyse hospitality and how you’re looked after on shoot days?
DP: “It depends where you go, but the shooting lunch is definitely one of the highlights in my book. What we have for lunch is all part and parcel of the whole day out… a good lunch, with a couple of glasses of nice red wine in a relaxed atmosphere.”
RC: As the ‘Posh Couple’ on Gogglebox there is usually a glass of something less than soft not far away. How do you like to charge your hipflask?
DP: “Funnily enough I tend not to bother with a hipflask unless it is really bloody cold. In principal I do like a glass of wine with lunch but I am very wary of guns, alcohol, trips, falls and safety.”
RC: Who invited you on your first driven game day?
DP: “I really can’t remember. What I do recall is that my first real experience of driven shooting was on the Beaulieu Estate, where I lived for a while. I was Lord Montagu’s land agent’s assistant for a year. There was a fabulous gentleman whose name escapes me – I am going back 30 or 40 years – and he had no legs at all. He was a double amputee with two false legs. My job was to stand behind him and prop him up so once he had shot he didn’t fall.”
RC: Do you go in for any of the really high stuff?
DP: “I love a good high bird, as much as anybody else. I don’t really go in for the macho thing of whether I did or didn’t get one. I don’t mind if I don’t get them; the fact of the matter is I’ve enjoyed the challenge and the sport.”