I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be sitting front row, a mere few metres away from one of the greatest environmental advocates the world has ever seen. Currently in Melbourne, Sir David Attenborough was centre stage as he spoke for almost 3 hours about his crazy adventures filming the worlds elusive and more often than not dangerous animals. Sir David is 86 years old and is still working as hard as ever, having flown in from the Galapagos Islands and flying out to Mozambique, I simply could not believe that I was watching him in person. He has so much zest for life it was truly inspiring and a natural story teller, as soon as he spoke you could feel the audience sit back and relax as they absorbed his animated adventures.
One of my favourites of the night was his description of becoming a commander at the UK's BBC television station. It is impossible for me to do the story any justice but it was hilarious when he spoke of it so I will try my best to translate it. Ray Martin, the host of the evening asked Sir David what his least favourite animal in world is and Sir David replied rats. Apparently, when Sir David was at the BBC and in charge of an animal program he employed a rat catcher from East London to appear on the show talking about the rodents. Prior to the program airing live Sir David warned the rat catcher who spoke with quite a cockney accent, to be careful of his conclusion regarding the death of the rats he catches. Sir David described seeing him whack the rats over the head with a shovel as quite disturbing and would be particularly so for the BBC's viewers! The TV show aired and the rat catcher brought on stage two large boxes filled with two different types of rats, he plunged his hand in to one box nabbing a fat rat by the tail. He started swinging the rat around in circles by its tail, around and around. He looked at the camera and said "Now I don't want you to suppose that I'm doing anything cruel to the rat. It's just that I need to make him dizzy so the bugger doesn't bit me!" The word "bugger" had never been used on television before!
Oh I know it's probably one of those 'you had to be there' stories but the entire audience was laughing at Sir David Attenborough and it was just magical. The conclusion of the evening was Sir David Attenborough citing "What a Wonderful World" and seeing him sitting on stage as he spoke those words on screen was a once in a life time opportunity.