Quite a week, as the jalopy sped towards Christmas. Eyes still settling down after surgery, though periodically I can almost see over the horizon. Am sporting a temporary pair of reading glasses rather akin to those worn by Dame Edna Everage, which teeter on the point of my nose – as shown in the above image, taken during a session on accounting for sustainability at St James’s Palace. Rather more gold in evidence that day than I am normally comfortable with. Was late for the event, owing to earlier session with Accenture, but did at least arrive in time for lunch.
Week was a blizzard of meetings and brown-bag lunches, one of the most interesting of the latter being with Jamie Mitchell of innocent. Late in the week, we had a meeting of the Trustees of the Environment Foundation at 2 Bloomsbury Place, the upshot of which is that Halina Ward looks set to become the Foundation’s new Director, which is really great news. Our focus now will be very much on the ‘Democracy & Sustainability’ theme that we spotlighted earlier in the year at the Science Museum event. Only sadness is that (Sir) Geoffrey Chandler will be standing down as a Trustee. Received a wonderful card from him today, the front of which shows six images of a Trinidad Emperor (Morpho peleides insularis) emerging from its pupa, which Geoffrey took in 1968. He also bred the butterfly.
There seemed to be a spate of media things during the week, including my interview appearing in Le Monde, a quote in The Christan Science Monitor in a piece on Japan and my profile of Albina Ruiz Rios (executive director, Ciudad Saludable, based in Lima, Peru) appearing in the January-February issue of Ode magazine. Have also been cranking out a number of articles and columns, including one for Director magazine today in which I draw on Van Jones’s book The Green Collar Economy.
Have been buying books left, right and centre this week, but with little sense that I will ever get around to reading them all – seem to remember hearing that it was a sign of something when you found yourself buying more books than you could possibly read. But one of them, My Lord, fell open in my hands in the bookshop at an extraordinarily significant page. This was The Economist Book of Obituaries, and pages 184-185 carry an obituary of Karl Kehrle, or Brother Adam, the Benedictine monk who did so much to save British bees. His Buckfast bee was widely exported. We went to see him in the 1980s, when I was still thinking of using the beehives and honey separator I had been given by Kerry Effingham, who had inherited them from an elderly relative who had just fallen offf his perch.
The bit of the obituary I particularly enjoyed noted that Brother Adam, having had the last rites read several times after a series of heart attacks, would still keep clambering out of bed to see how his bees were doing. But the obituary that still lives on most energetically in my memory was that of Kerry’s erstwhile husband, the Earl of Effingham. One of the most extraordinary pieces of (richly deserved) hatchet work I have yet seen.
On our way to Waterstone’s last night, where we successfully tracked down a copy of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s only novel, The Violins of Saint-Jacques, we dropped into Whole Food Markets in Kensington on our way home last night, to buy their wonderful sourdough bread, and bought a few bottles of wine too. One I picked up in passing was Sustainable Red, from Mendocino also and billed as from locally owned and operated farms, protecting the environment, and all wrapped up in earth-friendly packaging, carbon neutrality and solar power. Wonderful story, but shame about the wine.
Mention of Leigh Fermor reminds me of the time I asked Geoffrey Chandler, who had also been in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during WWII, whether he had ever met Leigh Fermor, whose writing Elaine and I had long loved. He said he hand’t seen him since they had been busily loading a Jeep, I think it was, onto a caique, I think it was, in Alexandria Harbour, I’m pretty sure it was. And the Jeep was full of gold coins destined to pay off partisans in one or other theatre of war in which the two of them had recently been causing havoc.
Finally, a third gold thread. While trying the Sustainable Red last night, we watched Richard Attenborough’s film Closing the Circle, partly set in Belfast. One of the stars, Mischa Barton, who went to the same school as Gaia and Hania, ended up with a sister called Hania, while another family ended up with a cat called Gaia, if memory serves. Amazing how the film brought back Northern Ireland, where we libved in the 1950s, outside Limavady. And the story here focused on a gold wedding ring, lost and found.