I recently celebrated twenty-one years without serious injury or accidental death. It was a momentous occasion, celebrated in true style with a Batman themed colour scheme in the club rooms of a football club I have absolutely no affiliation with. If that’s not a twenty-first birthday party then…well okay…I’ll probably get over it. Anyways it marked my 21 years of being a person on this Earth, instead of being a manatee (which is a real possibility people so you better buy those African Anti-Manatee Charms from that dude near the bus-stop who smells like horse-shit and paint) and was pretty excellent. However perhaps one of the coolest things to stem from my twenty-first transformation (no transformation was had which was disappointing…) was the gift I received from my familiars.
It wasn’t a Bat-mobile, clearly missed that memo Mum, it was a single ticket to see my childhood hero Sir David Attenborough at his live show in Melbourne. Single ticket. Yes. I am a badass. Yes. I am over here. And yes…looks like. Back onto the point (lol POINT): I was going to see my childhood hero live. In the flesh. On stage. We were going to occupying the same building…there was a very real chance he would be breathing the same air I was breathing…we may even end up sharing a molecule or two..
Well that show was on the 18th. It is now the 20th. I have seen my idol in person. I have heard his words. I have breathed his air (sounds gay, it’s not…promise). I have affirmed my belief that my single ticket was the best 21st birthday present ever.
Let’s expand upon the notion of childhood heroes. They are the single most important part of a person’s growth from a kid to a semi-serious, adult (or manchild). Think back to your childhood hero or role model and think of what having someone like that to look up to did for you…or conversely think about your lack of such a person in your life as you carve another notch into the prison wall beside your bed. I’m joking. But only because I’m deadly serious. See. I even typographically altered the word deadly to emphasise my point (FUCK YOU AMERICAN SPELL CHECK I WILL NOT PUT A “Z” IN THERE!). Seriously though, I idolised this guy. I had videos, yes hipsters we are the same, of his documentaries. I borrowed the same doco on killer whales from the library about three times a month because it brought me closer to the man I admired…hell…the man I wanted to be. While other kids were being Superman or Ronald Reagan I was walking around my background narrating imaginary animals in a rich British accent.
It’s always dicey when a childhood hero is seen in real-time. It can go several ways, most of them ending in bitter disappointment and a drinking habit, which is why many people often try to distance themselves from their idols or choosing new ones as time wears one. It makes the possibility that your childhood idol is really a tool easier to bear. So going to see my idol live was always going to interesting…what if he was crazy? What if he was boring? What if his voice sounded nothing like it did in all of those movies about seals and lizards?
Fortunately for me this was not the case. My fondness for Sir David (cos I like met him sort of we’re on first name basis…but you’re all so jelly) has only grown since seeing him speak. This is a man who has achieved so much in his 86 years that it could equate to fourteen different lifetimes. I sat there the entire time in state of bewildered rapture, it was a state that transported me back to that little boy running around the background narrating his dog instantly. It was amazing. In fakt it had such a profound effect on me that I immediately went to the library and borrowed two of his books that haven’t read and a DVD I hadn’t seen. Old habits and that Bruce Willis franchise I suppose.
A night in the presence of the king of natural history wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t also include learning. And not the lame kind that your father insists is a part of basically everything ever invented ever (no Dad a highway does not make me feel happy about not being car bombed you weird, weird man). So here are some fakts I took away with me that night (no-one noticed that I took them so I think I’m in the clear).
Things That Sir David Attenborough Taught Me Besides The Rediscovery Of Childhood Wonder
1. That blue whales can hold their breath from anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes at a time, and when they come up to take a big gulp of air they tend to only surface for around about 90 seconds. This makes filming them very difficult…but when you do it’s amazing.
2. That ‘David Attenborough’ when spoken aloud over a shitty radio sounds a lot like ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ hence why an island tribe in New Guinea greeted David as though he was royalty when they came to film a doco there. This included a rendition of ‘God Save The Queen’…that featured all of the verses, including the ones no-one knows.
3. His favourite animal is a human baby, but because Ray Martin wasn’t satisfied with this answer he changed it to the Bird of Paradise, which is so named due the fakt that it was first presented to the Western world stuffed and without wings or feet. This prompted questions from those who had received it, which were answered with the explanation that the birds were from ‘paradise’ and floated between the clouds feeding on condensation and crashed to Earth upon their death. This was seen as fakt and was printed in many natural history books on the subject. Obviously this has been changed as we now know they eat more than condensation. They also eat baby’s laughter and rainbows.
4. If you put an axolotl in a tank, fill it with water and then sporadically add something called thyroxine to the water, the axolotl will lose its gills and leave the water, becoming a land based animal. This is because an axolotl is actually the larval stage of a Mexican salamander that can remain in the larval stage and still reproduce (kind of like teenage mothers…)
That’s all for now. Have a nice evening and if you must wear crocs…do it discreetly….