Some people are not happy just to have a favourite character in the Lord of The Rings; they have to be that character; hence the archery lessons and tripping over my own cloak.
A while ago in an archery contest Faramir (me) was shamefully trounced in full Ranger garb by a woman dressed as Shelob. This weekend there was another archery contest and Shelob entered, so as no Ranger can walk away from a fight, I entered too, with my bow Meneldulin, Blue Singer. (the coach says it sings, but I can't hear it...must be a Rohirrim bow )
Just like Faramir in that brave but doomed cavalry attack on Osgiliath, I was hopelessly outmatched; it was a British Championship and the targets were 40cms wide and shot from 22 metres. Harder to hit than a matchbox on a troll. I actually couldn't even see it. But I thought of Faramir and reasoned that no Ranger gives up, even against great odds, or even great orcs.
There were a hundred archers on the line, including several British champions, so I got an un-Rangerlike attack of nerves. I knew then how the archers had felt at Agincourt. To make matters worse, the competition was run concurrently with one in England and one in Wales. Before the contest the coach caught sight the silver dragon Smaug that I wear round my neck.
'V!' he cried in horror. 'You can't wear a Dragon! The Pentrith Bowmen wear dragons. IS that a Welsh Dragon?'
I stammered in reply; how could I say; 'No, it's a Middle Earth dragon'?
Wouldn't life be much simpler if we did not divide our time between Earth and Middle Earth?
'Just keep it out of sight' grumbled the coach.
I had Smaug on and my Viking earrings too but when the whistle went and we stepped up to the shooting line I knew it was not going to help as my hand was shaking too much to hold the bow straight. On my left Shelob lady said;
'No missing this time' and drew her black arrows.
On the bright side there were two archers beside me with longbows, a Boromir and an Aragorn. Watching them calmed my nerves, and brought back to me the magic of the bow, which Tolkien must have known for him to create the Rangers of Ithilien and their great bows, and further back in Middle Earth history the great Elf archer Beleg, called Strongbow, and his bow Belthronding.
The magic did not improve my shooting, though. I hit the straw, the curtain and the floor. And on one memorable occasion, my arrow got stuck in the wooden frame of the target and would not come out. Oh, the shame.
Beside me, however, Aragorn and Boromir weren't having a happy war either; as we walked forward after a set to collect our arrows and score Boromir said to me;
'Excuse me, would you mind if I retrieved my feathers from under your butt?'
'What??' I said.
'I broke an arrow...' he explained sheepishly '...and the feathered end is under your target. Can I get it?'
The big straw stands the targets are pinned to are called butts. By a strange etiquette you can't touch another archer's butt without permission.
'Oh, sure, go ahead...' I replied. I watched curiously; he had smashed a wooden arrow to splinters. Later on at the prize-giving I watched as he was awarded the gold medal for longbow. I remembered Frodo; just because you have a disaster like Weathertop doesn't mean you have failed the quest. Never mind the misses, just count the hits.
Meantime, Shelob lady was getting very annoyed; she was missing even more than me. A good few of her black arrows were ending up on my target.
'Aim for the black..' advised Aragorn. 'And you might hit the gold'
When shooting was finished I wanted to slink off home and die, but I stayed to see my score. It was dismal, 140 orcs. But Shelob lady had only 112. So at least I was not Faramir The Last.
I was just Faramir the Second Last....
Just how did he hit that guy on the Oliphaunt?