No Way But Gentlenesse: A Memoir of How Kes, My Kestrel, Changed My Life

No Way But Gentlenesse: A Memoir of How Kes, My Kestrel, Changed My Life

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1632865025

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


There is no way but gentlenesse to redeeme a Hawke.
--Edmund Bert, 1619

Born and raised in the South Yorkshire mining village of Hoyland Common, Richard Hines remembers sliding down heaps of coal dust, hearing whispers of "accidents" in the pit, listening for the siren at the end of mine shifts, and praying for his father's safe return. At age eleven, Richard's prospects suddenly dimmed when he failed the trials for English Grammar School, though his older brother Barry, evidently their mother's favorite, had passed and seemed headed for great things.

Crushed by a system that swiftly and permanently decided that some children do not merit a real education, and persecuted by the cruel antics of his English schoolteachers, Richard spent his time in the fields and meadows just beyond the colliery slag heap. One morning, walking on the grounds of a ruined medieval manor, he came across a nest of kestrels. Instantly captivated but without a role model to learn from, he sought out ancient falconry texts from the local library and pored over the strange and beautiful language there. With just these books, some ingenuity, and his profound respect for the hawk's indomitable wildness, Richard learned to "man" or train his kestrel, Kes, and in the process became a man himself.

No Way But Gentlenesse is a breathtaking memoir of one remarkable boy's love for a culture lost to time, and his attempt to find salvation in the natural world.

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sometimes ribbed, usually black or dark blue. Wearing the grammar school uniform now made me feel daft, like some big awkward kid. Nevertheless I tolerated it, although I drew the line at the school tie. The teachers who taught me A level History and Geography didn’t seem to notice, or care. Similarly the deputy head who taught me A level English Literature didn’t seem offended by my open-necked collar. Unfortunately my other literature teacher, Brooky, wasn’t having it. Wherever he spotted me,

first creature we came across would be his to take home, once he had caught it. His quick thinking paid off. On one occasion when we came across an escaped budgerigar, he chased it up and down the colliery slag heap until it landed, too tired to fly any longer. Budgie picked it up and carefully carried it home – that’s why I called him Budgie. Another time he took home and successfully reared a young song thrush we had found in the fields. One day I managed to get in my claim for the first animal

curving upwards and into the sky. Having failed to grasp the lure and take her prize of beef she looked confused, unsure what to do. ‘Come on, Kes . . . Come on, girl.’ Holding the lure stick in my gloved hand and pulling, I shortened the lure line, pulling it through the fingers of my lure-swinging hand, making it taut enough to swing the lure for a few twirls by my side, before throwing out my arm again and letting the lure line slip through my fingers as the lure’s momentum carried it up to

volunteer overseas, and later to my decision to become a teacher, my hawking experiences influenced another decision that dramatically changed my life. TWENTY-FIVE RAKE AWAY. To abandon the flight and career away down wind. – J. G. Mavrogordato, A Falcon in the Field, 1966 In 1980 I’d been deputy head for nearly three years at the junior school in Doncaster, and had already begun to look in the Times Educational Supplement for suitable vacant headships I could apply for, when, one Sunday

hood him his head ducked and writhed like a snake’s, making it difficult for me to slip on the hood and tighten the hood braces with my teeth. One of my books suggested that the way to deal with a hawk that resisted hooding was to carry it under your arm and repeatedly hood it until it accepted the procedure. Suspecting it was my incompetence that was the problem, not my merlin, and realising he was so well manned that he didn’t really need a hood, I decided against this drastic advice, accepted

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