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LORD WOOLAVINGTON’S HOUSE PARTY, AUGUST 1922

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.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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