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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
Richard Hines
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Born and raised in the South Yorkshire mining village of Hoyland Common, Richard Hines remembers heaps of coal dust, listening out for the colliery siren at the end of shifts and praying for his father's safe return. When he failed his eleven-plus it seemed all too likely that he would follow in his father's footsteps and end up working in the pits - unlike his older brother Barry, who had passed the exam to grammar school and seemed to be heading for great things. Crushed by this, Richard spent his time in the fields and meadows beyond the slag heap.

One morning, walking in the grounds of a ruined medieval manor, he came across a nest of kestrels. Instantly captivated, 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 found the passion that would shape his future.

Richard's experiences with kestrels inspired Barry's classic novel A Kestrel for a Knave. When production began on what would become Ken Loach's iconic film Kes, Richard himself trained the kestrels that would soar on screen and into cinematic history. No Way But Gentlenesse is a superb, moving memoir of one remarkable boy's love for a forgotten culture, and his attempt to find salvation in the natural world.
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