Saturday, February 08, 2014

My family and other animals

At the FT, Ben Martynoga visits Jane Goodall in her family home at Bournemouth. Really enchanting picture at the bottom of Goodall's "favorite thing":
As a 12-year-old, she joined eight matchboxes together to make a stack of small drawers and filled them with dozens of handwritten scrolls; each slip of paper contains a quote from the Bible. Goodall made this Bible box as a gift for her grandmother and, for more than 50 years, the family have used it as an inspirational lottery.

(Photo credit: Victoria Birkenshaw.)

It is difficult to overstate the extent of my youthful obsession with Goodall: I really thought for many years that it would be my vocation in life to go and study chimpanzees (or perhaps gorillas) in their natural habitats. I can't pin the date down exclusively, but the book that was my utter obsession the year I turned eight was In the Shadow of Man. I read it again and again - and in fact in childhood times of stress and trouble I would retire to my room and contemplate the chimpanzee family trees on the endpapers and think about how much better life would be if I were living with a tribe of chimpanzees instead of a human family!

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