Quite the week.
Most dramatic, moving element was Thursday afternoon and evening spent driving to and from Little Rissington, to spend time with my mother (who is very ill) and family.
Pat drugged on morphine, but as I sat at her bedside she would periodically surface with humorous or insightful one-liners. Extraordinary state of being, but so grateful to my siblings for their continuous support for our nonagenarian parents.
Strangely, perhaps, a joy and a privilege to be there. Tess and I spoke across Pat’s reclining form, reviewing our lives, knowing that she could probably hear at least some elements of the conversation. And, again, Pat would periodically surface into the flow, like a mysterious fish, and then slip beneath the water again.
One thing she said to me when we were on our own was that she had heard nightingales. I assumed that these were acoustic hallucinations from her childhood, until I discovered when back in London that there are indeed nightingales in Gloucestershire.
Here’s what they sound like.
The snow is long since gone from London, but there were still pale streaks as I drove through the Cotswolds. As I left Hill House late on Thursday evening, and walked through the yard, I was stunned by the starry, starry night sky. Went back into the kitchen to turn the lights off and just stood watching.
Then in today’s (Saturday’s) Financial Times, I came across John Gapper’s ‘Lunch with the FT’ interview with author Michael Morpurgo. Apparently poet Ted Hughes counselled Morpurgo that, when he was feeling gloomy: “Remember, if there’s one child feeling this place, stomping through puddles and looking up at stars for the first time, he won’t know a wonderful thing is happening but it will soak into his life, one way or another.”
It did, it has.
As for the rest of the week, a fascinating session with The Crowd on Monday evening, featuring Novozymes CEO Peder Holk-Nielsen. I spoke at EcoBuild conference on Tuesday morning. Bit of a nightmare getting to the ExCel site, but great people on our panel from organisations like Bioregional and the World Resources Institute.
On Tuesday, I met Candice Reffe, Chief Impact & Innovation Officer at Eileen Fisher. Among other things, she is a poet – and among the people we talked about were Gary Snyder and Ted Hughes (see below). That same evening, Elaine and I went across to South Kensington for a riveting panel discussion on Superbugs: The Fight For Our Lives at the Science Museum.
Fabulous Volans Salon on Wednesday, featuring Judy Samuelson of the Aspen Institute, and with over 20 participants, on the issue of shareholder primacy. And then my annual 2-hour session with Mike Tennant‘s Imperial College MSc students on Thursday morning – invigorating.
Then the big one, and the reason I had to come back to London, we did the third in our 3-city series of events with Innovate UK, focusing on decarbonisation of the built environment. Wonderful top floor venue provided by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) at Savoy Place, overlooking the Thames.
I chaired a panel session with Agamemnon Otero of Repowering London, Alastair Mant of the UK Green Building Council and Priya Prakash of Design for Social Change (D4SC) in the morning, and then did a after-lunch on-stage interview with biomimicry architect Michael Pawlyn. If you haven’t seen his 2010 TED talk, it is well worth a viewing.
And now off to see a great friend from California, Will Rosenzweig.