Richard Maybey at the Cut


I watched Richard Maybey watching us, as we came in. He has a stick. No socks. He fiddles with the foreign body around his head, a wireless microphone, otherwise he sits comfortably with his arms crossed across his rounded body, his eyes, alive looking out watching us. His interviewer, Patrick Barkham, (environmental correspondent for the Guardian), tickles us all by starting off saying, ‘Richard May be you could talk about this…’ Unintentional and heard by us audience we all giggle.

His new book, Turning the Boat for Home, describes those moments when history accelerates, those starting points of books and writing in his life.

Patrick lists his well known books – ‘Food for Free, Flora Britianica, Nature Cure, Weeds, Richard Maybe is constantly pioneering’ . Richard feels for his stick as Barkham talks of his legacy.

He tantalised me from the start by mentioning – out of the blue here in Suffolk – The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthison, set in Dolpo Nepal (home to the film recently seen in Aldeburgh – ah globalisation). He described it succinctly: the presumption that these things should be available to see. Another anecdote, of an owl, looking at him, as if to say, my life does not depend on your understanding of it.’

I was surprised to learn that only since 2002 has Richard Mayby lived in East Anglia – later than my return to Suffolk in 1999. How did he move from the Chiltons to East Anglia? Roger Deakin was his first pit stop.

Someone describes his feeling for an oak, peaceful and calm. Not at all for RM, but animated, its branches negotiating, argumentative, competitive for light,

The Overstory (which I’ve ordered tonight)

With probably 80% loss of Ash trees, why not welcome those we have disregarded like the sycamore – it has the same host of litchen and wildlife attached to it.

He forgot his stick as he walked out to sign our books, Patrick however, saw and collected it.



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