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A Humphrey Lyttelton anecdote

This quote comes from Last Chorus: an Autobiographical Medley (JR Books Limited), first published in 2008, page 420. The book includes Humphrey's diaries 1974 to 1980.

"Saturday 24 May [1980]
Picked up at home by Chris Durdin of the R.S.P.B. who looks fifteen but must be older. He drove me to Chelmsford, getting lost no more than three times. The fete was in a vast field, but a healthy number of people turned up. I opened it by playing a handful of 'bird' songs on the trumpet, was followed by the town band, Scottish dancers, a kite-flying demonstration and P.T. by girls from a police-training school whose formidable thighs turned pork-pink in the prevailing cold. I bought a couple of prints by Tunnicliffe for £2.50 each (framed), some porcelain pots by local craftswomen (or craftspersons) and some teacloths. Duty done, left for home."

Chris writes: "I don't recall the navigational challenges from Humphrey's home in Barnet to the field in Chelmsford, but don't deny them, though I am sure we arrived in time. As for the youthful look, then aged 24, that's true enough. I don't remember much of the conversation, just that Humphrey was an amiable travelling companion, and we certainly chatted about his interest in birds. I suspect my lack of knowledge of jazz was a disappointment to him.

"He was a popular celebrity at the Fair. Several of those who came told Humphrey how much they enjoyed his regular jazz radio programme, and he was quite touched by that.

"Curiously, the same event is mentioned in Rob Hume's book Life with Birds though with more reference to the P.T. girls and their thighs, as I recall, which I evidently mentioned back in the RSPB office that I then shared with Rob."

The event was a Spring Fair run by the Chelmsford RSPB Members' Group. The organiser was the late Roger Jordan, who became a great supporter of the Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust through his Wildlife Outreach Network.

Honeyguider Jill Jordan was also there. She dug into her archives to find that the Spring Fair raised £1,000, part of £2,500 donated that year to the RSPB's Silver Meadows campaign, which was to buy and manage wet grassland nature reserves such as West Sedgemoor and the Ouse Washes.

Also on a musical note:

The minor third: how this musical interval crops up in the world of birds.

Nothing to do with nature, but who are your favourite backing singers? Honeyguide's Chris Durdin reveals his Top 10 here.

Chris Durdin, October 2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Honeyguide Nature Notes

Last Chorus

"A feast for all his many fans and admirers, this is the great Humphrey Lyttelton’s last book, a sparkling autobiographical kaleidoscope of memories, anecdotes, and entertaining stories from his colorful life, from his childhood as the son of a famous Eton Housemaster, through to his role as the irrepressible chairman of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue."

I bought a second-hand copy from Better World Books.

Life With Birds

"Rob Hume recounts his life experiences in a charmingly honest and self-deprecating way. The result is a book that is more like an afternoon of stories shared over a pint at a favorite pub than it is a straight autobiography. Familiar names, places, and events roll past as the reader is treated to an insider's view of the RSPB and its growth and evolution."

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