I was reading Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. Most of you know Douglas Adams as the writer of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and other quirky fiction. Last Chance to See, is non-fiction.
Carwardine is a zoologist. Adams is definitely not, but he is—was :(— incredibly intelligent and much better at expressing his thoughts in a digestible way than the average incredibly-intelligent person. The book documents their travels looking for rare and endangered species. While the species still existed, hence the name of the book.
It’s an excellent book. Hilarious, and a little sad given not all the species they saw are still around. I highly recommend it.
Another, and one would think unrelated, book I read sometime before getting around to Last Chance to See was The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. First published in 1951, this sci-fi novel has a definite Cold War Era ‘the arms race will end the human race and it must be the Russians fault’ thing going for it. Not a bad read. I don’t recommend it quite as highly, but if 50s sci fi is your thing you’d probably like it. Actually, if 50s sci fi is your thing you probably already have.
What made me laugh, or I should say one of the many things that made me laugh, reading Last Chance to See was the following passage:
“It’s hard for an Englishman to think of something like privet as being an exotic and ferocious life form – my grandmother has neatly trimmed privet bushes lining her front garden – but in Mauritius it behaves like a bunch of marauding triffids.”
I laughed because, had I read these books in the reverse order, the triffids reference would have been totally lost on me. Not sure if it’s my generation, ignorance, or if this reference is really that obscure, but ‘triffids’ is not a term I had picked up through cultural osmosis. I guess reading really does make you smarter.
Note: In case you don’t know, a triffid is a huge plant that has not only learned to walk, but will hunt you down and clobber you. Not even vegans are safe.