Martin Hughes-Games, remember him? I mentioned him a few times before as the presenter of Autumnwatch and Springwatch. He has been making wildlife programs for over two decades and now he has written a book: A Wild Life. It is an interesting read and made me forget my everlasting life on the sofa.
The connection between brains and instinct – about detecting fear – in my most recent article (follow the link below, arrow to the left), remember that? With that in mind, while I read this book I started wondering if this man with his wild life has both brains and instinct…
The book A Wild Life is a collection of marvelous stories about filming incredible creatures such as ospreys, elephant seals, vampire bats and many more. Not only has Hughes-Games the easy tone of voice as if he was chatting with you and at the same time sharing a cup of something. He also adds interesting facts about the animals adapting to certain circumstances, things that are sometimes hard to imagine.
Martin Hughes-Games really knows what he is talking about, the things to learn about animals seem endless in this book. So I dare conclude his brain is okay. But what about that instinct?
My suspicion about him having a bit too much bravado and a lack of instinct did not occur to me until I read chapter six: ‘The Bite of the Giant Centipede’, that is about the question whether the giant centipede’s bite really is the most agonizing bite known to mankind? As the producer of ‘A Cry in the Dark’ he thought it would be stimulating to show a real live giant centipede crawling around a real live person. The centipede was easily found, but to find an actor to play the scene was not that easy. Therefore he decided to do it himself.
Even though the story itself did not give me the shivers, the photo (alas, I could not find it online) that goes with this story in another part of the book did! Yup, my instinct revealed itself. Hughes-Games was in bed ‘wearing only a pair of grey Marks and Sparks jockey shorts for protection’ (p. 88), sharing it with a monster: a centipede about as long as my lower arm. And he actually thought it sad that the creepy-crawly did not bite him: ‘I was correct: no bites, but (..) the lack of bites meant that, sadly, I was not able to contribute my own thoughts to the ‘most agonizing’ debate’ (p. 92).
I really cannot help it, I am just not into spiders and other creeping creatures. Not because I am a girl, but because we descend from those cavemen and women and detecting possible threats is part of our system. That also goes for this amazing, but boisterous storyteller – even if his instinct tells him otherwise.
A Wild Life is a book I can highly recommend to everyone, even to people who are uncomfortable with creepy-crawlies and other sort of frightful animals. Just remember…, remember to keep the photos hidden in their own section.
I am happy I treated myself to this book and glad that a dvd with corresponding highlights was not added. A giant centipede in motion, crawling over a sleeping person… I would end up behind the sofa, rather than on it.
If you liked this article, you might want to read Pigeons and Poodles