Last Friday I did a gig for the World Land Trust with David Gower. Gower — former England cricket captain, should anybody need to know — has been a patron of the organisation since 1996; I am a council member. We had an audience at The Cut in Halesworth, in Suffolk and we did our stuff: me playing straight man while David told some of his tales.
We devoted the first half to cricket and the second to wildlife, and David was, as ever, great value. He has a great passion for wildlife, though passion is not the most obvious aspect of his nature. He likes to keep such matters carefully wrapped up in layers of impenetrable irony.
He lived in Tanganyika – now Tanzania – until he was six, and in that last year, he and his parents made a farewell tour in a brave blue Ford Anglia, which they took to Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater and many more of the big wildlife destinations in that country.
And it got to him. What’s more it stayed with him — so much so that he wondered about becoming a game warden if cricket didn’t work out. So we talked about Africa, and he told tales of being charged by elephants, which is not an experience you lightly forget. Being straight man, I resisted all temptation to try and top his tales with one of two of my own. Africa gives people tales: that’s part of the point.
David called his second volume of autobiography An Endangered Species, a title that combines his taste for the wild with his own view of himself as a cricketer out of his time. He was never at home in an atmosphere in which personal enjoyment was seen as a betrayal.
David does plenty of good stuff for World Land Trust; in 2011 he went to Mumbai to conduct an auction of jewels that raised big money. It’s always good to spend time with him. Conservation needs non-specialists: needs people from other walks of life to stand up and speak out. That’s because conservation is for everybody and it affects everybody.
Thanks, David. Well batted.