Hearing London afresh

August 16, 2010 / London, Showcase, Writing / 5 Comments /

Selective hearing is a great thing, especially living in London where so many noises assault our ears and compete for our attention throughout the day. But selective hearing can block out the good with the bad.

Which is why it’s so refreshing to discover someone who helps us to hear the sounds of the city afresh. Ian Rawes’ London Sound Survey has re-opened my ears to the audio world of the capital.

Ian’s recordings are, to me, like photographs that capture a moment in time and forever allow a viewer or listener to focus on something that would otherwise have passed them by. Continue Reading →

Bat walks with Pete

June 17, 2010 / Showcase, Writing / 2 Comments /

Stag Headed OakThe first time I met Pete, he held captive an audience of 200 people from the lofty heights of a park bench.

Like the Bearded Piper of Dulwich Park, he lead fascinated bat enthusiasts on a walk through the twilight of south London. He instilled a spectral calm amongst the crowd as they pricked their ears, listening for the tell tale rattle on the bat detectors that told them to look to the sky and see pipistrelles dart across the inky blue.

He held us in thrall with tales of how clouds of bats used to be seen at dusk along the Thames estuary, how numbers had declined so far in a short time that they had become an Continue Reading →

The trouble with biodiversity

July 3, 2009 / Science, Writing / 0 Comments /

Beware the Kitchener recruitment message

When every other headline tells us the economy and planet are crumbling, when all concerns pale next to the demise of Mammon, how do we keep biodiversity, if not at the forefront of, at least somewhere in people’s minds?

Biodiversity is the poor relation of environmental concerns – a fringe concern isolated at the edge of the anthropocentric interests of the majority; the biodiversity sector a small band of altruists, whose passion marks us out as oddities amongst a nation of consumers.

“Why does biodiversity matter?”

“It just does!”

We sustain this fantasy at the cost of our cause. Altruism is dead. It’s time to admit our preference for one species above another, to recount with joy those minor and mind-altering stories of personal encounters with wildlife, to acknowledge the economic value of the natural world and join the rest of the world in unashamedly embracing our selfish gene.

Continue Reading →