Or rather, what am I?
As you may have picked up, I live in rural Northamptonshire, but close to the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire borders (bandit country?). I, therefore, am often crossing into neighbouring counties and passing the roadside signs which announce them. I was very fond of the old signs which announced that Northamptonshire was ‘Rose of the Shires‘ as it seemed to conjure up the right blend of pride and history. Now the signs say something like ‘Let yourself grow‘ or ‘A place to grow’ or something equally unmemorable and equally naff.
However, Northants does better than Beds did (although it has changed too) which used to describe itself as ‘mid way on the Oxford – Cambridge arc‘ or something very similar. In other words, Bedfordshire was defining itself as being between two other (more important and interesting?) places. I really hope that that description was the result of somebody’s error after a night on the town rather than the result of a large investment of money! ‘The UK – midway on the Ireland – France arc‘ would never take off, would it?
At the Bird Fair (btw when is the next one – can it be next weekend please?) I was often asked what I am doing these days apart from writing Fighting for Birds. With that audience I don’t have to define myself, Bedfordshire-like, in terms of what I’m not, as the former Conservation Director of the RSPB although I do say that to quite a lot of other people in my life.
I am now a writer on wildlife and conservation issues who also tries to make a living from consultancy. All my consultancy work has been with wildlife NGOs and one or two individuals on wildlife issues, strategic advice and taps into my experience as a manager and leader in the wildlife conservation world. I’m a bit picky about who I’ll work with and so that rather limits the income!
At the Bird Fair it was lovely to meet lots of people for whom I write – readers and publishers!
Of course the readers are the more important, but I’ll tell you a little about the publishers.
At the 2011 Bird Fair I talked to Dominic Mitchell about writing a column for Birdwatch and that column, ‘the political birder‘ started appearing a few months later. I enjoy being in Birdwatch‘s talented pool of writers (other good magazines for birdwatchers are available) and at the Bird Fair it was good to meet, for the first time in person, Rebecca and Sue. I email Rebecca my column every month and email Sue my invoice – obviously I love them both very much indeed.
Also at last year’s Bird Fair I talked to Andrew Branson from British Wildlife – for whom I now write in every other issue (which is three times a year as it appears every two months). My first two columns discussed farming and forestry respectively. My third column for them is in the current issue and discusses the RSPB’s new post of a joint Fundraising and Communications Director (about which there was much gossip at the Bird Fair – watch this space), how much the RSPB should be an all-wildlife organisation and whether being the ‘Royal’ RSPB is an asset or not (and whether HM the Queen is likely to be thrilled with the association too).
And then there are books – yes, books plural! Last year I was flogging Blogging for Nature to people and that is still available on lulu.com – in fact it is reduced in price. Funnily enough I had a cheque from America for sales earlier this week. A rather small cheque, and in dollars so it’s even smaller when converted to pounds, and then my bank charges me £6 for paying in a dollar cheque to my sterling bank account – so it is really quite small.
You’ve heard enough about Fighting for Birds perhaps so I won’t mention it again here in this particular blog (but I will soon) except to thank all of you who bought copies at the Bird Fair. But I will just mention that I shook hands on Fighting for Birds at last year’s Bird Fair although then it didn’t have a title, or a cover or many words to its name!
There was a bit of hand-shaking and discussion at this year’s Bird Fair about books too. Let’s see what the next 12 months might bring…
So, what am I? I must be a writer at least. Or maybe I’ll call myself the ‘Rose of the Shires’ since it is no longer used by my adopted county. Or perhaps the ‘Thorn of the Shires’ would work even better…