Ever wondered how the bow was invented? It’s lost in the mists of time, as they say, but I’ve an idea how it might have come about…..
Og sat near the fire at the cave entrance. The nights were long and the days were short, so to amuse himself he was attaching a string made of hide to a piece of curved wood he’d found in the forest nearby. Word had it that once you had made the string taut you could pluck it and make a pleasing sound.
Eventually, he managed to tie the string in place and he plucked at it a few times. The rest of his group stopped their various tasks to listen and, one by one, they stood up and began chanting and stomping as Og plucked away.
It turned into a great party – they even broke out the three-year-old moose urine that had matured into a fine but potent tipple. Hours later everyone lay slumped around the cave in various stages of exhaustion and stupor. But Og – who had been too busy plucking his new instrument to drink much of the moose urine – was still wide awake and a bit bored.
He picked up a long straight stick he was using as a poker and gave the fire a bit of a stir. Then inspiration struck as the flames and sparks flew upwards. Why not bang the stick on the string instead of just plucking it? He bounced the stick along the string, jigging his head back and fro to the new sound. Then for some reason he couldn’t really fathom, he began drawing the stick up and down the string, making a pleasant screeching sound. It sounded a bit like his father-in-law after he dropped a stone axe on his arthritic foot.
Og held the stringed instrument in various poses as he drew the stick up and down the string. As he pushed the instrument out at arm’s length in an attempt to produce a long note, the end of the stick caught on the string as he pulled the piece of wood towards him. Suddenly, the stick flew off into the darkness of the cave. There was a scream – and then silence.
Holding a burning stick aloft, Og shambled towards the location of the scream. In the flickering light he found his mother-in-law lying across a rock, with the stick protruding from her back. She was obviously dead. Oops. That would take some explaining when everyone woke up.
Still, it had given him a brilliant idea for the next time they went off hunting. Meanwhile, he was filled with a feeling that was hard to describe, seeing as his vocabulary was limited to the odd meaningful grunt. In years to come, they’d have a word for that feeling – serendipity.
Several weeks had passed. Og drew back his stick and let it fly towards the chest of the huge cave bear. He could almost smell the bear steak they’d be cooking tonight! Damn my hide, thought Og, as the stick glanced off the bear’s chest: my first bouncer. He began plucking away at the string in the vain hope that the sound might just distract the bear enough for Og to make his escape….plinky plonk, plonky plinky plonky plonk. The bear reared up, its slavering fangs glinting in the fierce sun, readying itself for a killer strike. Like his stringed instrument, Og was completely plucked.