Jimmy Buchanan, self-made whisky tycoon,
became Lord Woolavington of Lavington,
Sussex, in January ’22.
He acquired his peerage, it was said,
with a post-dated cheque signed ‘Woolavington’.
To celebrate he hosted a lavish
grouse-shooting party that Glorious Twelfth
on his moorland estate near the Moray Firth.
To prepare for the party, heather had been scorched
so young grouse might fatten on the new shoots.
The corpses of polecats and pine martens
had been hung on gates and from fence posts,
and skies emptied of hen harriers,
and purged of the dancing of red kites.
There is a photograph of a guest posing –
in tweeds, sporran, kilt, a gillie beside him,
a retriever at his feet – with his shotgun
at the ready. He is standing in a butt
of cut, piled heather. He is waiting
for the hired beaters to drive the birds up
so they are silhouetted against the sky.