Monday, December 20, 2010

Year of the Book # 39 GERALD DURRELL


I’m constantly amazed at the clarity and the indelibility of childhood impressions. At least that is how it is for me. It is almost as if there is a movie theatre in my head and at the press of a switch, the memory of choice plays as vivid and unspoilt as if it happened yesterday.

(Fortunately for me, most of my childhood was a wonderfully happy one.)

And perhaps one of the most delightful memories is of devouring Gerald Durrell’s books during summer holidays. Once again, he was a gift from my English Literature class in school – and so we studied My Family and Other Animals with as much diligence as Julius Ceaser. But, as heretical as it may be to say it, I left Shakespeare behind in the classroom while I carried my beloved Durrell out and he stays with me to this very day.

Most people would describe Gerald Durrell as one of the world’s most well-known and pioneering naturalists and conservationists. Indeed, he sounded the wake up call about the environment long before it was both fashionable and politically correct to talk “conservation”.

But for me, he will always be the man who wrote

“ Champagne corks popped and the pale, chrysanthemum-coloured liquid, whispering gleefully with bubbles, hissed into the glasses; heavy red wine glupped into the goblets, thick and crimsom as the blood of some mythical monster, and a swirling wreath of pink bubbles formed on the surface; the frosty white wine tiptoed into the glasses, shriulling, gleaming, now like diamonds, now like topaz; the ouzo lay transparent and innocent as the edge of a mountain pool until the water splashed in and the whole glass curdled like a conjuring trick, coiling and blurring into a summer cloud of moonstone white…”The Garden of the Gods 


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