So, continuing to research Mauritius and its wildlife, I have been going through the transcripts of several interviews I did with the conservationist Gerald Durrell, who you will probably know either through his books or through the TV series "The Durrells of Corfu." Here is a photo of him and his wife Lee which accompanied one of my articles. I think this picture conveys what good company he was.
Mauritius and its wildlife fascinated Durrell. When the remote Indian Ocean island was discovered in the 17th century it was uninhabited by man and full of extraordinary animals and plants that had evolved in isolation, almost like the Galapagos. Unfortunately, human beings arrived in Mauritius before anyone had heard of conservation, and so now only fragments remain of the original wonderful plants, birds, animals and reptiles. Durrell used the Dodo, the island's most famous extinct bird, as a symbol of Durrell Wildlife Trust and the zoo which he founded in Jersey. And very good work is now being done in Mauritius to conserve and re-wild ecosystems that are left.
Sadly, Durrell died in 1995. The transcripts provided quotes for my articles, but most of them have never been published. Reading through them again after all these years, I often laughed out loud - he was so witty. I've also some found some more unexpected treasures. During one interview he mentioned a piece of music, since our interview was being held within sound of church bells ringing the changes, very loudly and very distractingly, outside.
I didn't look the music up at the time, but this time I did, and here it is! It's called The Bells of St. Genevieve. It was written in 1723 by the French composer Marin Marais, who was being driven totally mad by his local church bells in Paris, and needed to write the piece to get his head straight. I love its powerful hypnotic sound. What do you think?
Apart from spending hours on Durrell and Mauritius, I went on the People's Vote March in London last Saturday with various members of my family, including my cousin who came down from Rutland.
What an incredible march it was. I go on very few marches, but this reminded me of the march against the Iraq War, - the huge numbers of people were packed side by side across all four lanes of Park Lane and hardly able to move because more and more came flocking in. When we finally reached Piccadilly - after two hours - the crowds stretched front and back as far as the eye could see.
I took lots of photos but as the nearby Rinky Dink Bicycle Powered Sound System launched into another number, my camera was drawn to the dear little girl on the left who is one of the people I remember best from the march.
Her joy and pleasure were infectious.
It was great the way that so many workers in nearby shops and cafes and street vendors waved at us, and even staff in the department store where we went to have a coffee afterwards, gave us the thumbs up when saw our badges. Even the busker in the tube on the way home was covered in stickers advertising the march!
Truth is that most people in Britain, whatever their views on Brexit, are exhausted and horrified at the way it is going, and many people just want to forget it. So it was wonderful to see that folk of all ages, old, young and even disabled people on walking frames or in wheelchairs, made the effort to come, not only from Britain and Ireland but also from further afield. I spoke with English citizens that had travelled that day from both France and Holland. They said they were not allowed a vote in the original referendum yet their lives are being turned upside down by Brexit,
Revised numbers are that about 700,000 people turned up and nobody we met or saw in that huge crowd was angry or nasty, the weather was beautiful, the music was good,and the atmosphere was great, so, even though it's a very serious topic, we all agreed it was a fun day that we will remember for years.