...с завуалированными нотками, как наркоторговцы Колумбии
Star who plays a lead role with the archers
My Sporting Life
Supersleuth actor Jeremy Brett talks to Graham Bridgstock
A Simple case of toxophily, Holmes!
Elementary . . . Jeremy Brett scores a hit on stage as Sherlock Holmes and likes to be right on target when he’s relaxing away from the limelight of the West End

You really have to concentrate if you take up archery. My brother John shot two of his teeth out once, simply forgot to take the pipe out of his mouth.
Can you imagine the headlines if I did that after being elected 1989 Pipeman Of The Year? Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
But accidents will happen. On another occasion my brother Michael winged someone walking in the woods near the targets.
Nunky was the old chap’s name and the arrow hit him in the arm. But he couldn’t have been nicer about it.
‘Think nothing of it, dear boy,’ he said, carefully removing the arrow from the sleeve of his coat.
You need space for archery. Not long ago my brother Patrick and some pals were shooting in his garden at Elstree and an arrow went straight through the dining-room window.
Fortunately, lunch was still in the oven. But the window was closed.
Touch wood, none of my accidents (broken nose wrestling in As You Like It, sword in the eye in Troilus and Cressida) have ever involved archery.
In fact, I’ve never even drawn a bow in a film or in a play, although I’d love to.
The whole family were toxophilites. Actually my mother was a brilliant archer, won many awards.
She had a special lightweight bow and when I was growing up I used her hand-me-downs. Looking back, I must have been four or five years old when my father gave me my first lesson.
Between the wars they’d bought a house in Warwickshire near Meriden which is the home of the historic Woodmen of Arden archery club.
They shoot against the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.
First my parents joined. Then my brothers Michael, Patrick and John became members. Finally – I was the runt of the family – I followed in their footsteps when I was 21.
The outfit is really glamorous – Lincoln green out-sway tailcoat, buff waistcoat with gold buttons, white slacks, white shoes and a New Zealand-style hat that turns up at the side.
On my first day I wore my brother Michael’s tailcoat.
He’s narrow in the shoulders and I had to have it taken out a bit, must admit I felt a little gauche, not to mention in awe of the company. Let’s face it. They were some of the finest archers in the country.
Nervous? The Warden was having none of that, ‘Buck up, boy!’ he said.
Naturally I’d been practicing like mad for the occasion.
Firing at 100 yards. I nervously let the arrow go. It wobbled in the air and to my astonishment landed smack in the middle of the target.
Not only was it a jolly good start, I was also made Master Forester on my first day – a title which carries with it the honour of sitting at High Table(?).
Socially, archery can be pretty heavy going. That day the lunch ran to 12 toasts and I remember staggering out afterwards full of venison and summer pudding, cheeks pink from the port, nose still twitching from my first pinch of snuff.
Sometime I’d love to take two or three months off in the spring or summer and head for Meriden to recapture it all, shoot every day.
Alas, time is the problem. If I’m not making a film or a television series, I’m on stage (He is currently starring in the (hill?) West End play The Secret of Sherlock Holmes at Wyndham’s Theatre).
In the meantime, I keep my hand in on Clapham Common!
First thing in the morning I slip out of my flat with my bow and arrows and aim at an enormous cushion placed at the foot of a tree.
The moment it’s light I have only about 10 minutes before people start arriving. Then I have to pack up because it’s no longer safe.
Sometimes there’s an old man out there walking his dog and, niblick in hand, practicing his chipping at the same time. He keeps a safe distance and his dog keeps a wary eye on me.
That’s when I go home for breakfast. I keep my bows and arrows in the loo.
Running water is vital. They must have moisture. Occasionally I run a bath and hang them above it on a rack, let them soak it up.
Central heating may be marvelous to us on a cold day. But bows and arrows hate it.

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