Blogger: Agnes Rothon

Can you remember what it was that inspired you to do the job that you do today or the job that you did throughout your working life? I can remember mine and I revisited it quite by accident the other day.

I was clearing out the spare room – the drawers at the bottom of the book case were beginning to sag under the weight of the cargo that they carried. It was time to get down to the serious business of ‘having a clear-out.’ Amongst the piles of old photos, balls of knitting wool and childhood trinkets I came across the story tapes that I would listen to at bedtime when I was younger. There were some great titles in there – The Twits by Roald Dahl, Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee and then, my absolute favourite, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I could immediately remember receiving the double-cassette one Christmas – I must have been about eight or nine. It was the most long-lasting and value for money present my mother has probably ever given me and I fell asleep to the story many, many times over the years.

Having found the cassette I wanted to listen again and found myself able, even now, to repeat many sections of the book word-for-word. Durrell evokes landscape and the animals that inhabit it in glorious and intimate detail. From scorpions found hiding behind crumbling brick in the garden wall to the antics of Durrell’s pet magpie the sheer wonder of a childhood spent outdoors is retold in ‘My Family’ effortlessly and beautifully.

I wonder now whether it was my experience of this book and my kinship with it that allowed me to develop my own love of wildlife and my desire to describe this passion for the outdoors through words. I know for certain that I will pass on the chance to enjoy Durrell’s writing to my own son at the earliest possible opportunity.

I do so hope that amongst the children of today there are the conservationists and naturalists of the future. The future of our wildlife and green landscapes depends on it. That’s why the RSPB tries to provide as many opportunities as it can to give as many children as possible the chance to experience nature for themselves. This summer holiday why not take a family trip to your local nature reserve and see what you can find? You never know – you might just be inspiring your child to become the next Gerald Durrell. 

As featured in the Eastern Daily Press on Saturday 17 August