A letter from Australia from a Chemist. Favourite animal: Crocodile
Dear Sir David Attenborough,
Can I call you David? It sounds overly familiar but you have been part of my life for a very long time. I have welcomed you into my home over the years around dinner time and even let you in when dessert was served. I have followed you to the depths of the Amazon and shivered as you travelled to the polar regions. I had tears in my eyes when you showed the world glimpses of where I grew up and the magnificence of the country. Albeit on cathode ray television sets but I was with you all the way and still am.
I’m a scientist. I didn’t go into Environmental Science and not even Marine Biology. I’m a Chemist and a Metallurgist. I work in mining and broadly speaking the antithesis of what you do. In my spare time, I often can be found planting trees, pulling out invasive weeds and more recently I helped monitor baby turtles, sorry, the hatchlings of Flatback Turtles at Port Hedland while holidaying.
When I was growing up, you made learning things look like a lot of fun. I also learned so much from watching your documentaries. You are one of my heroes. I didn’t have a soft teddy bear as a little girl, instead it was a chimpanzee puppet I called “Monkey“. He went everywhere with me.
You remain a source of inspiration especially when I need to catch a frog or native mouse from within my home to release outside. I thank you sincerely for being part of my life as a child, angst ridden teenager and as a professional scientist. Your involvement has made consider my actions with much more care.
I also share your enthusiasm for telling people about science. Chemistry is my forte but I will give any field a go. I have shown children and adults the abundance of life in pond water – damselfly larvae, bright red and blue water mites, water boatman, arthropods and more. Countless spaghetti bridges have been built and destroyed by budding engineers, and the most fun I’ve had was the study of projectile motion using a trebuchet, water balloons and willing human targets.
News has reached me that you are coming to Australia. Happy day indeed. It would be an honour to meet you but alas, it is not to be. You aren’t coming to Western Australia but that wasn’t going to stop me. Something else did. There are simply no more tickets to be in the audience to listen to you speak so there is no point in booking airline flights to the other side of the country. A bitterly disappointing realisation.
I know you came over to WA in 1979 and visited the Gogo formation in the Kimberleys. This was two years before I was born and a whole generation ago. I do wish you could see the generation of scientists in WA that you’ve influenced. I think it would be hard pressed to find any scientist who would not know of your work or indeed anyone. It is not just scientists that adore you. Your ability to speak about any manner of creature and make it likeable is amazing to witness as long as one is able to stay removed from the process. Everyone I know admires your work.
It is with great regret that I cannot meet you in Sydney or Melbourne. There simply was not enough room. I will have to be content with only welcoming you into my lounge room.
With Greatest Sincerity,