Last night, I was privileged to be part of one of the most extraordinary events in my life. Looking at it objectively, you would wonder what’s so extraordinary about an elderly man, dressed in trademark light-blue, short-sleeved shirt and beige trousers, sitting on a stage, having a discussion with one of Australia’s most well known journalists? But when that elderly man is Sir David Attenborough, describing the evening as extraordinary simply does not do it justice.
The evening was essentially Sir David having a discussion with Ray Martin with various film clips to illustrate certain stories. I’m not a Ray fan but I must say that, last night, he did an excellent job, leading Sir David into many and varied discussions of his sixty years in television. From the moment Sir David first started to talk, the capacity audience in the QPAC Concert Hall was completely mesmerised. I was fascinated by Sir David’s body language. When talking to Ray, Sir David was completely focused on him with such incredible intensity that I was astounded. But Sir David always included the audience and reacted to our laughs and other responses, turning to us to say something or respond with a quick quip. In a way, though, it felt like I was eavesdropping on a private conversation, however, I also felt that I had been invited to eavesdrop and so was always included.
I ran into two friends in the foyer before the show, a lovely couple I’ve known for some years but with whom I have recently lost touch. It was fantastic to see them and introduce them to Ghryswald and watch all three of them get along like old friends. I was even more excited when the two of them, along with two other people, were selected in the second half to come to the microphone and ask Sir David a question. I should have been insanely envious but instead I was thrilled that two people I know, who I know admire Sir David every bit as much as I do, got to talk to and be answered by the great man in person.
For me, Sir David is a bona fide genius. I don’t know what his IQ is and I don’t really care. To me, his genius is two-fold. Firstly he has the ability to recognise new technology in TV and filming and to put it to the best use possible. He doesn’t just say, ‘Oh, we can now film in 3D. Let’s film ALL THE ANIMALS in 3D’. No, he takes the technology and puts it to the most appropriate use to showcase whatever he is filming in the best and most amazing way. Secondly, he is the most brilliant communicator I have ever seen. In a snippet of an interview shown last night, Desmond Morris (famous for The Naked Ape and other things) described Sir David as a compulsive communicator; an incredibly apt description. Every time I watch and listen to Sir David, I am utterly captivated by his warmth and enthusiasm and the genuine love and sense of wonder he feels for the natural world. I honestly believe that, if Sir David Attenborough had never been born, this world would be in a far, far worse state in terms of ecology, the environment and climate change.
At the end of the evening, the film clip played of Sir David speaking the words to What a Wonderful World. I sat there with tears rolling down my face as I thought just how thankful I was to be living on the planet at the same time as this wonderful man.
There are not enough superlatives in all the languages in all the world to describe Sir David, or words in these languages to express the depth of admiration and, yes, love that I feel for him. I am profoundly grateful that I was able to be there last night. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.Tweet this!