5 DECEMBER 1987, Page 38

Richard Atkinson, Gamekeeper at Grouse Hall and Lay Preacher of


for Chris Hawes His voice is a thunderclap on conscience. His gun blasts the wood out of silence. His cunning springs death on the rabbit. Corpses wither to husks on his gibbet: the mole because he spoils the flock's sweet grass with dirt; the crow for stealing the eyes from sick lambs; the hawk because he is a perfect killer and the Master's grouse are innocent. The Law is simple enough: thou shalt and thou shalt not. God's great love marks him like ruddle; his knees have printed hollows, like round stones would leave when prised out of a field, praying under the thorn tree: Thou art Our Shepherd and a diligent keeper. Mick North