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Monday, 14 September 2015

Bushcraft Books: David Attenborough - Life on Air




Just a short one here. I have recently finished (Sir) David Attenborough's 'memoirs' entitled Life on Air. What a read!

The man himself needs no introduction - he is a legend (I don't apply that word as readily as most) both in the world of natural history film making, and in British television itself. I realise that this doesn't in itself qualify for inclusion under the 'Bushcraft Books' heading. However, in a career spanning more than 60 years of exploration, education and research he has encountered tribes never before seen by 'white men'; explored regions never before traversed by Europeans; filmed, photographed, recorded or documented species of animals, facets of primitive and ancient culture and relics of anthropological development never before seen by outsiders, never mind recorded, or documented. 

Is it not these sort of adventures which all of us who participate in bushcraft style pastimes are seeking after deep down, despite the fact that for many of us they are out of reach? He was involved in these adventures when they were exactly that - adventures! Before air travel to almost every conceivable corner of the world shrunk the planet beyond the imagination of some people still living. He travelled, by necessity, not because it looked good for television, by boat, including dug out canoes, on foot through unexplored tracts of rain forest, on horseback through wetlands in South America where vehicular transport was untenable and still not easy to this day. The list goes on and on. 

Nor was he merely a generic presenter reading someone else's script as seems to be the case so often nowadays. In fact he started his television career as a producer and director without appearing in the finished product. He studied Zoology and Paleantology at Cambridge, and at one point started to study part-time (alongside his work with the BBC) for a degree in Anthropology (this was interrupted by an administrative shake up which saw him promoted within the BBC). His main roles in front of the camera were to come later and, its not an exaggeration to say, were to change the way natural history films were made.

He has been widely recognised for this work with, among others, a Knighthood, too many honourary degrees to count and other industry awards in television, education and conservation. 

However, he concludes his account with a description of why he continued, and indeed still continues, to produce these films and have these adventures:

"...I know of no pleasure deeper than that which comes from 
contemplating the natural world and trying to understand it."

I couldn't agree more and heartily recommend you live some adventures through the eyes of Sir Attenborough by reading 'Life on Air'.

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