A moment with David Attenborough

A moment with David Attenborough

Meeting David Attenborough at a book signing in Oxford.

Back in 2008, when I told my children Cleo, then 18, and Rupert, 14, that David Attenborough was coming to Oxford they both leapt at the chance of meeting this Great Human Being. They were brought up on a diet of David Attenborough TV series. Cleo started queuing at 1.30pm and managed to get sixth from the front of the queue. By the time I arrived at 3.15pm a long, long queue snaked between the aisles of books.

At 3.30pm light applause signalled the Great Man’s arrival. I found myself spontaneously clapping vigorously and heard myself whooping out loud, thrilled to be breathing the same air as David Attenborough.

We had our books and DVDs at the ready for signing, and cameras, of course, to record the precious moment. And then the moment came!

Rupert and me meet the Great Man

I had so much I wanted to say to him, but tongue-tied and heart a-pounding, it was all I could do to thank him for his life’s work and for being a constant inspiration to me.

He looked at me and said ‘it’s a pleasure.’

I wanted to tell him how he had inspired my travels, my paintings, my now insatiable interest in the natural world and natural sciences and for being such a bloody decent human being. But words failed me.

We each shook his hand.

Surely one of Cleo’s proudest moments? Certainly one of mine.

After we stepped away from the table it was all we could do just to stand there and look at him. He reminded he a lot of my own wonderful dad.

We watched, delighted, as other people share their moment with him. A six-year-old girl who had clearly also been brought up on a diet of David Attenborough, opened a container of cakes she had baked and decorated and offered one to him.

This ordinary man’s extraordinary talent for communicating and sharing his passion for the natural world is why we love him so much. There’s no one who does it better.

When we got home I cried.

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