Today (May the 8th) is Sir David Attenborough's 90th birthday! I am a gigantic fan of his, growing up he was a tremendously big influence on my interest in nature and my love of animals, and the source of a lot of the random animal facts that are stored away in my head. I think it's fair to say that without a diet of documentaries by Sir David, I wouldn't be where I am today.
Other kids would be allowed to stay up late to watch the football, reality shows or movies, but I didn't want any of that. I begged and pleaded my parents to let me stay up to watch the latest documentary series. I'd have to get ready for bed, be in my pyjamas (teeth sparkling) and I'd be allowed to stay awake to watch it. I'd sit hugging my knees, right in front of the TV (which looking back was probably a big indicator that I was in desperate need of a trip to the opticians, but that's not the point) and just absorb every word, every animal behaviour, every jungle sound, and the beautiful sights and sounds that our planet has to offer. I fell in love with the natural world, and Sir David Attenborough was the matchmaker for that love.
As I got older, his work was still ever-present in my life. This time in school, if we'd been good or it was near the end of term, we could spend a class with Sir David on the screen rather than the teacher on the whiteboard. This turned the whole idea of the documentaries into more than just a fascinating show, it became the highlight of the school term, even the whole year. And still my mind filled with wonder at the brilliance of what Sir David was showing us all.
Even as I became an unruly eighteen year old, he was still a factor. I remember one night out up in Norwich, where after getting back from the pubs we put on Planet Earth and made up drinking rules for it. My brother, who I assume felt self-destructive, chose to drink every time Sir David said anything interesting...
Afterparties aside, I'm still a great lover of everything Sir David puts on TV. Walking with Dinosaurs being on Netflix sustained me during the final stages of my undergrad studies. And tonight, after posting this and eating dinner, we'll be marking Sir David's birthday in the most fitting way I can think of; I'll be sitting in my pyjamas, hugging my knees, marvelling at the wonders of the world.
Happy Birthday, Sir David. One day I hope to make a tenth of the impact you've made on the world. You're my hero, my idol, and my inspiration. You were my gateway drug into science, and rekindle my love of nature every time you open your mouth to speak. Thank you.