Pos­i­tive state of mind worth aim­ing high for

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

MY re­cent piece on re­tain­ing the ‘sense of won­der’ has caused a flurry of very pos­i­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions, from the sim­ple and straight­for­ward ‘Sean, that was a lit­tle gem’, to the more mea­sured and par­tic­u­larly hum­bling from stu­dent Sarah Bracegirdle, of Stock­port.

She com­mented: “I just wanted to say how much I en­joyed your re­cent story in the Stock­port Times.

“Your ar­ti­cles are al­ways in­sight­ful, but this one spoke to me so much I felt I had to get in touch.

“You’re ab­so­lutely right; we should never lose that won­der for na­ture and wildlife. The sim­ple things seem to get over­looked all too eas­ily th­ese days, and an hon­est re­ac­tion to the mag­nif­i­cence of na­ture some­times seems not to ‘fit’ cer­tain as­pects of mod­ern so­ci­ety.

“As a stu­dent study­ing French in ur­ban Birm­ing­ham I of­ten feel quite re­moved from na­ture and wildlife, both phys­i­cally and men­tally.

“It’s one of the rea­sons that my mum very kindly posts me cut-outs of any wildlife-re­lated ar­ti­cles/ pic­tures I might like from news­pa­pers – in­clud­ing yours – and gives me reg­u­lar up­dates on how the birds in the gar­den at for half a sec­ond, and I of­ten don’t un­der­stand how they aren’t as thrilled as me by the sight of a robin.

“Your words about the im­por­tance of keep­ing that unashamed ad­mi­ra­tion for na­ture, that in­no­cence and cu­rios­ity, came at an op­por­tune mo­ment and meant a lot. So, thank you very much.”

My plea­sure Sarah. Another reader asked me if I had re­ally met Sir David At­ten­bor­ough, so here’s a pic­ture for the proof!

Truth is, I have and he’s a top bloke. It’s not ev­ery day you get to meet your hero and I re­mem­ber the first time with great af­fec­tion. He is the doyen of Bri­tish, in­deed world, nat­u­ral­ists; but per­haps more, be­cause he is an in­spi­ra­tion with his at­ti­tude to life.

We met as Fel­lows of the Bri­tish Nat­u­ral His­tory As­so­ci­a­tion, he got his on the same day as I got mine, and as we talked, he en­thused about film­ing projects in a cou­ple of years’ time.

Best of all was when we were in the clois­ters of Ep­ping For­est School, get­ting changed into our robes and he asked me, mat­ter of factly in the voice of a thou­sand pro­grammes, ‘how do you put this silk hood on Sean?’ be­fore turn­ing around and ask­ing me to give him a hand.

He re­minds me very much of an artist friend of mine, Edna Whyte.

Edna, who lives on the tiny In­ner He­bridean Is­land of Lu­ing, is 85 this year and yet she is work­ing to­wards an ex­hi­bi­tion of paint­ings in two years’ time.

Theirs is a state of mind to aim for, the point be­ing, if you come up short on the old life stakes, then at least you will have been striv­ing for some­thing, as op­posed to watch­ing for the dig­gers lean­ing on their spades.

Okay, that’s as pro­found as I get in a fam­ily news­pa­per, but hope­fully you get the pic­ture.

●● Proof that Sean met Sir David At­ten­bor­ough as Fel­lows of the Bri­tish Nat­u­ral His­tory As­so­ci­a­tion

The Laugh­ing Bad­ger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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