Thanks to being in the right place at the right time on facebook one morning, I managed to get tickets for myself and Beth to see our hero and national treasure, Sir David Attenborough. I was uncontrollably excited as I was beginning to worry that as my idol had just celebrated his 90th birthday, I wouldn’t get the opportunity to ever meet the man who’d been such an inspiration to my chosen career path and love for the natural world.
After nearly a year’s wait ( And a few worrying moments when much loved celebrities began dropping like flies) the day finally arrived for myself and Beth to travel down to Harrow School in London to see David Attenborough accompanied by long-standing friend and work colleague, producer Alistair Fothergill. Beth was designated driver for the trip and I was snack and entertainment manager so laden with enough food to feed a small army and a few CDs worth of ‘driving music’ (an interesting selection ranging from 50 cent to Taylor swift), we set off.
We decided to use ‘Air BnB’ to find a place to crash for the night and found a room in a family home just outside of Harrow. I was a little apprehensive at first staying in a place with a family as (thanks to horror movies) you never know what you may get yourself into (I’m a massive wuss, I know!). However, we could genuinely not have stumbled upon a more lovely and welcoming home. Oliviyera was a Croatian model who had moved to England 30 years ago and made it her home with her husband and three sickeningly beautiful children. She shared tales of her exciting life and travels during her career and was eager to learn all about us. She made us a huge breakfast the following morning and wrote us a glowing review on the website, what a legend!
Anyway, onto the reason we had made the epic migration down south…. TO SEE DAVID ATTENBOROUGH! Harrow is like stepping into another era with its cobbled streets, castle like buildings and young boys strutting around in top and tails swinging canes under their arms. It was like something out of a Charles Dickens novel and the inside of the auditorium was no different; there were fine oak furnishings, paintings of famous scholars and full scale busts of past headmasters which I kept a wary eye on at all times during the drinks reception ( I didn’t even want to think about the consequences of knocking one of those off!). The reception was a gaggle of Attenborough admirers from all walks of life; there were the well-groomed, well to-do families dressed in black tie attire and on the other side of the coin there were the animal loving hippies with their camo pants and dreadlocks. No matter who they were or where they were from they all buzzed with the same sense of excitement and were all eagerly scanning the room in search of the infamous man we were all waiting for with great anticipation.
When Sir David Attenborough did arrive, he snuck through the crowd like a ninja! He slunk quietly past the gaggle of people engrossed in their own conversations cloaked of his entourage. It was as he was making his way surreptitiously through the crowd, that my moment came….. I was happily noseying around the room chatting to Beth with my glass of wine in tow when out of the corner of my eye I vaguely realised I was stood in someone’s way (as I always seem to manage to do). I quickly stepped aside uttered an apology and then for the first time tuned to casually glance at the person I’d been blocking …….IT WAS DAVID ATTENBOROUGH!!!!! I elbowed Beth hard in the side accompanied by a noise I’m not convinced was entirely human, to which I got a disgruntled response until she too focused on what I was open mouthed and pointing at. It was at this moment when she frustratingly pointed out to me that I shouldn’t have been so instantly polite and should have remained in his way longer, in hopes of getting the chance to talk to him ….. dammit! So, that’s my claim to fame anyway, the numpty that stood in Sir David Attenborough’s way!
As David Attenborough and Alistair Fothergill were introduced a hushed excitement fell over the crowd as they stepped onto the platform and made themselves comfortable on the intimately organised armchairs. Alistair Fothergill, though not as well known to the general public as Sir David is indeed a legend in his own right, although he spends his time behind the camera most of the public are familiar with his work as the producer of Frozen Planet, Planet Earth and The Trials of Life. Mr Fothergill has had the opportunity of working with Sir David on a great number of occasions and tonight was about them sharing video clips and stories from their life shooting nature documentaries. They discussed numerous hilarious anecdotes about how Alistair had nearly been ‘the man who killed David Attenborough’ several times during their work together including almost drowning him with faulty underwater head gear and by faking his medical so he could present in the Antarctic at the fantastic age of 85. They showed their favourite clips they’d filmed together over the years including the breath-taking scene of Sir David with the gorillas which has become so famous. Sir David, for a 90-year-old man was incredibly spritely and remarkable quick-witted. He always had some amusing anecdote to add to the tail-end of a clip and laughed in good humour when Alistair pulled out a compilation of various animals chasing Sir David (the most memorable being Sir David trying to defend himself against a three-ton Bull elephant seal with nothing but a broom). There was time for a few questions at the end – one of which was a tongue in cheek question about what Sir David’s opinion on the recent Donald Trump election (though he behaved himself this time and made no mention of shooting him!) before the room erupted in thunderous applause to show our appreciation for the two unforgettable princes of BBC television.Shortly after we all took our seats ready for the main event. It began with a talk from the late Gerald Durrell’s wife, Lee thanking us for our support for the work at the Durrell conservation trust and for turning out that evening for the event. All proceeds of the evening were going to fund the fantastic work of Durrell conservation trust who man many successful projects across the globe and are advocates for the survival of both our native species and those essential for ecosystems abroad. Both Sir David and Alistair Fothergill have been long standing supporters of their work and I must say I quite agree with them.
To ever lead a life even a fraction as fantastically as these two men would be an absolute privilege. Sir David will forever be my idol, for a man from a background of little affluence, who lives life with such passion and has so much love for the world and his career is truly someone to be inspired by. I can safely see he is in person every bit as awe inspiring as he has been on the documentaries I have practically been raised on, and I can safely say he’s the most exciting person I’ve ever managed to get in the way of!! What a true and unquestionable legend!