Archive for April, 2008

Life after David

Let’s get frank here – we’ve all known that David Attenborough was on the way out for a while and, while he did nothing to pretend that he was on his last series, I for one put my head in the sand, not wanting to think about Life Beyond David.  What was going to happen to those documentaries that I have loved so much?  Who would carry the torch for good, honest and interesting reporting of all things natural?

So when I missed Natural World last week on BBC2 I wondered whether or not it was such a big deal but, because the subject was hyenas – a species close to my heart since I worked on a project with them in South Africa a few years ago – I thought I’d face the music.

It turned out to be quite a refreshing symphony.  Although a bug in Mac Leopard meant that the Internet connection on iPlayer cut out every 15 minutes, I consider it an hour of my time very well spent. If this is the way that future nature docs are heading, then I may well be pleasantly surprised.   It was beautifully filmed, making me long to be back in Africa (not hard, admittedly) and I felt that it really brought home the message that hyenas are actually fascinating, intelligent and remarkably likable creatures – especially as babies (yet, funnily enough, no one believed me when I came home from Africa gushing about them).  There were even glimpses of another favourite of mine, black backed jackals, pottering around in many shots and, if I’m not mistaken, an elephant willy a few minutes before the end – what more could you ask for?

Good job BBC.  But lay off dissing the Cheetahs, you’re not going to get me on side with that kind of behaviour.

Click here to watch ‘Naabi – a hyena princess’ until 3rd May.


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A child of our times

Whilst listening to a conversation about microfiches on Chris Evans’ Drive Time in the shower just now (I know, down with the kids, you don’t have to tell me) I had a moment. A realisation, if you will. For those of you who don’t know, microfiches were funny over-head-projector-type pieces of equipment which used to be in every library across the land (or at least the one at Langtree School in Woodcote and, from the sounds of things, in other places too) and they helped you to find the location of specific books – a function which has now been taken over by computers.  Here is my point.  I am part of the rare generation who happily (and easily) remembers life without technology – hell, I only got my first mobile phone at the age of 17, and I still had plenty of friends up until then.  My friend, Carly, was particularly cool because she could send texts from her phone (yes, that’s right kids, there was a time when the ability to send txts did not come as standard).  However, unlike my parents who can also obviously remember days without the Internet and mobile communication, I feel I have also grown up with technology and am, therefore relatively at ease with it – but then again, my Dad can probably still remember having the cane used on him, and my Mum the three mile walk through the Swiss Alps to get to school each day.  Not something I can confidently say you’d have seen in my lifetime.

This links in with something I have often pondered – will the next generation’s handwriting suffer as a result of computers?*  Admittedly it’s not something which keeps me awake at night, but I do wonder.  If, like me, you can remember going back to the classroom after the holidays, hand-writing an essay and realising that your aching hand and illegible scrawl were down to a lack of practice over the summer, you may also see where I’m going with this.  Even now, my once perfect hand writing has been reduced to squiggles, which if I don’t type up within 24 hours, become gibberish, even to me.  

Anyway, it’s just a thought – maybe some rich social scientist can investigate this before it’s too late.  Me?  I have a sunny evening and a glass of wine to enjoy.

*Reading this back it looks as though I am suggesting we use the cane on kids with crap hand writing.  I do not condone this.

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Night At The Museum

Ben Stiller employed by Ricky Gervais? Steve Coogan forming an alliance with right-hand-man Owen Wilson? Yes, it does seem a bit bizarre. Not too bad though, but more one for the kiddywinks. It was quite fun, despite some questionable costumes (notably the boot-polish on the Egyptian Pharaoh’s face) and a slightly irritating kid playing in a lead role. Perhaps it’s more that Ben Stiller can do little wrong in my estimations – I particularly liked the bit when he takes control of the situation, galloping through the snow-strewn New York streets in his well-fitting uniform on a beautiful chestnut horse…la la la.

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…now I’m no expert in eating disorders, but I do know a thing or two about PR…

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Wise guy

Tomorrow I am having my upper right wisdom tooth severed from my body.  But when I learned it would take palce at ten to ten, I actually did a little hop of excitement – cowboy time!  Surely the best time of day to lighten the mood of an otherwise frightning tooth extraction?!  Then my Dad told me that two thrity would haven been more apt.  I’ve also just overheard him telling my sister that the tooth fairy stops coming once you’re over 21.  Grrrrrr.

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PS. Incidentally, I did run my 5k race yesterday in the pouring rain / blistering sun / freezing wind. Who’d have thought so many elements could pass in just 31 minutes?! I must thank my supporters – my Mum Doris, and two friends – Laura and Ol – who very sadly arrived far too late for me to even realise!

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Legendary goldfish lives

Santiago, a goldfish who was released into a freezing body of water last Autumn, has been found alive and well. At the end of September last year, Emily Monsell reported on the story of Santiago, the fairground goldfish who was won in a ridiculously easy card game and was then released into a residential pond for lack of another home.

Fears grew as an exceptionally cold winter gripped the Thames Valley and Santiago was not sighted. Residents began to give up hope. “I was certain he’d died the night he’d been released” said Lynne, sister of author Emily. “It was such a cold winter and, although I feel they did the right thing by giving him the chance at survival, no one really believed he had pulled through. Even if he’d survived the elements, there were herons and our cats – Oscar and Merlin – to contend with”.

Yet, against all odds, Mrs. Doris Monsell spotted him on Monday afternoon, swimming among the reeds in the centre of the pond. “I reckon he was about 10cm in length! I tried to call Emily, as she was the one who released him, but she was at work. When I called her sister she wouldn’t believe me at first. In fact, I had to look twice myself, because it was such remarkable tale!”

Reports have, indeed, confirmed that Sanitago is alive and well. He was last spotted 20 minutes ago, measuring approximately 6cm in length, with a healthy, golden glow.

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