The manuscript of my new book, Green Swans, went off to the publishers a few days after we held the Green Swan Day event at the Barnes Wetland Centre. Can’t exactly say I have been walking on air since, but it has certainly been a considerable relief – and the publishers seem delighted. Now for several months of editing and getting the book designed and set.
One book I quote from in Green Swans is James Lovelock’s latest, Novacene. Read it before attending Jim’s 100th birthday party in The Orangery at Blenheim Palace, on Friday, July 26. It really is stunning – and highly engaging. I found myself laughing out loud at least once.
As we all trooped out in bright sunshine for a massive group photograph on the steps of the Palace, I found myself walking alongside someone I knew I recognised, but couldn’t quite place. Stewart Brand. One of my long-standing heroes, ever since I bought and read all the Whole Earth Catalogs – throughout their life cycle. He was there with his wife, Ryan Phelan, and he told me as we walked into the firing line that he and I had been seated next to each other at lunch. Joy – and what a wonderful conversation!
Have since been communicating with Ryan about her work at Revive & Restore. I am particularly interested in their work on ocean genomics (where I was struck by the Big Ideas proposed for the use of applied biotechnology) and on saving the horseshoe crab.
Then a trip across to Hill House, Little Rissington, to see my ailing mother and her carers, my siblings. She is still there, in part, but it is like talking to a still occasionally lively and funny person through a small letterbox. God only knows what is going to happen when the Baby Boomers hit the same sort of age. I heard from a friend this week that his sister-in-law had opted to have her life ended – and I suspect assisted dying is going to become a rapid growth industry before too long.
After Hill House, I drive back to London for the rest of the weekend, before heading off by train on the Monday to Exeter University for the 3-day (29-31 July) event on ‘The Future of Systems Thinking‘, where I met all sorts of extraordinary people – and caught up with old friends, like Tim Smit and Professor Tim O’Riordan. Fascinating interview of Jim Lovelock by GSI’s Tim Lenton.
Other events in July included a 2-3 day trip to Germany with the team for a deep immersion exercise with Covestro (July 15-16), a speech at the Royal College of Art on the 18th (see image below), a birthday party for Cathy Runciman of Atlas of the Future (20th), a speech for the Academy of Sustainable Innovation at Imperial College (see image below), and visits to Somerset House from people like Rebecca Mills (who I first encountered in the early days of The B Team, see image below), Anna Swaithes (Head of Responsible Business, Government Inclusive Economy Unit) and Ben Yeoh of RBC.
But in the midst of all this came the unimaginable news that Ben Goldsmith’s eldest daughter, Iris, had been killed in a all-terrain vehicle accident. Every time we have walked across Barnes Common since there has been a reminder (as if a reminder were needed) in the form of the impromptu shrine around one of my favourite plane trees (see below, though it has evolved since). I sent Ben a note immediately I heard. His heartbroken reply still rattles around my brain. Truly, there are no words for such times.