Dear Sir David,
It was only yesterday I dirtied my knees looking at a termite and black ant duel in the garden. The soldier termite is a formidable adversity.
There are defining moments in a child’s life where memory is so inkly etched the resonance plays out for the rest of their lives. I will remember always, arriving at my grandparent’s house in the sparkling afternoons in Perth, sitting on a tired bean-bag to watch your documentaries. My grandfather would tenderly VHS-record each of the week’s nature documentaries and we’d sit for hours in curious immensity. So began the thirst for life’s wonders.
My grandfather and I would go into the garden looking for bugs and flowers on all fours. We’d catch spiders in glass pickle jars to release them again, and deliver crickets to devoted praying mantises. We’d watch your documentaries over decades, while the bean-bag grew thinner– DVD replaced the VHS. I bought box sets of Life’s of Plants and wonder if the sea bean ever would land on a Perth beach—we’d consume the entire series repeatedly.
I became a little Charles Darwin, a collector of biological curious: a goat skull in found in Eagle Bluff, a preserved leafy sea dragon on Scarborough beach, and a kangaroo jaw bone buried in the park down the road where I used to live. I have a complete translucent mummified frog, the head of a bobtail (as the body was smelly to carry) and perfectly preserved New-Holland honeyeater chicks whose parents tragically abandoned the nest, they are frozen in time, mid-gape heads extended, hungry forever.
My peers called me Nature boy.
For my 18th birthday I received a fully desiccated mouse (complete with hair) from a friend. I still treasure it. Most people recoil horrifically with the thought of preserved animal parts in a box under their bed—I know you’d understand.
I had an aquarium in my room and the spectrum of exotic life—I must say mudskippers are real characters. I raised motorbike frogs from tadpoles in the hallway and marvelled at their metamorphosis. I had a Venus fly trap feed their fleshy pink faces with fleshy fat house-flys.
I can’t quite remember the demarcation of wonder when began in childhood—perhaps my adult life only an extension of this. In school I studied all sciences and blitzed them with ease. My BSc degree was gloriously multi-disciplinary: Viticulture and Oenology. From soil dynamics to organic chem and wine tasting: deliciously brilliant science.
I now edit Western Australia’s online science publication, ScienceNetwork WA and work with a gifted team of journalists. It’s located at Scitech, an interactive science discovery centre where children are enthralled every day.
I spryly jumped to garner support upon finding out there was a small but none-the-less real opportunity to get you to come to Perth—but there are official processes that need to be adhered to—and sometimes enthusiasm can be destructive. I’ve been nerve-wearily watching email exchanges from various Government and non-Government agencies trying to figure out the best way to invite you to come to Perth. The hourglass empties and we’ve yet to hear from your management company.
From the presentation of the natural world in all its splendour beckons an insatiable curiosity of all things. I know that’s how my grandfather would have had his epitaph. Even in ailing health and the last of his months he’d catch moths in the caryard across the road and feed wily-wag tail chicks nesting in his garden. Incandescently young-at-heart he’d show me the babies and how every year they’d come back to nest—life and its cycles. Then in the sterility of palliative care, in the last days before he died, we’d watch your documentaries together again. One process ends the other begins. Life goes on.
Even if you are not able to make it to Perth, I’d like to thank you for the profound impact you’ve had on my life through your documentaries.
I struggle to comprehend what it must be like to deadpan-ly view the natural world and I’m glad not to be of that ilk.
Jason Boudville is Editor-in-Chief at ScienceNetwork WA. He can be found on Twitter at @tannic_teeth. Jason can also be found writing his blog, tannicteeth which details a considered existence towards ‘eat, drink and think’. His writings on wine were published in SPICE magazine until the magazine’s closure in Winter 2011.