I have always been fascinated with wildlife.

As a child I had countless toy animals and every Christmas I was presented with heaps of animal books. Not kid books either. Real text books filled with Latin names and weights and measurements and facts of life.

My first pocket money was spent on a subscription to World of Wildlife magazine. I'd bring it to school every Tuesday and bore the other kids with irrelevant facts and diagrams of subjects I could have barely understood myself. Still, for me it was riveting stuff.

I remember my Father rousing me from bed to allow me to watch Jacque Cousteau's, oceanic documentary "The Silent World". He obviously had noticed my interest and the phenomenal rate that I absorbed anything about animals.

One day a neighbour came by and was talking to my father about his sick parrot. (Yes it sounds like a Monty python sketch). My father called me over and said, "James, what do you think?" I didn't think anything. But my father seemed quite expectant that I would cure this ailing parrot. I asked a few dumb questions like, "what colour is it?" and "does it get regular exercise?" I was of course just stalling for time. Then I said, "I don't know. Maybe you should go to a vet". This answer seemed to please my father greatly. Perhaps he was thinking, "My son may be thick as two short planks but he knows what time it is."

After Cousteau I was hooked on Attenborough documentaries and just about anything with an animal in it. Remember that great migrating wildebeest story? Just like the movie Red River but without John Wayne and the chuckwagon lads. Epic stuff.

I cannot honestly say that I "Love" animals. That's definately the wrong word. It was more of a fascination. Animals to me were not cuddly, wide eyed Disney creatures to be petted (Though that's good too). They were big and real and lived in a big real world. They did big, real things. That was the attraction. I had a deep appreciation of them. That's probably a better description. To see a deer on the edge of a meadow quietly melt into the forest. Or suddenly see a foxes keen eyes across the campfire when you thought you were alone. These moments stir a sense of wonder within me. Perhaps it's a proverbial call of the wild reminding us that our lives should not be so meaningless and tedious as we allow them.

I'm a lot older now but just as fascinated by wildlife as ever. But whenever I see an animal documentary, the story now seems very similar and sad. "Here is an animal, it is beautiful. Once there were lots but now only a handful are left. Here is their homeland. Now it's a wasteland. Once it was bigger but now it's been developed." The plot is the same again and again everywhere in the natural world. Here is the pack ice. Once it was bigger. Here was a buffalo. Here was a tuna. Here was a tiger…

Nowadays I have difficulty watching wildlife documentaries. I am always aware of the approaching fatal punch line. "Only a handful survive". It hurts too to think that there are nuts out there who still trade and profit from furs and by products of endangered species. What can I do?

I joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund a few years back. Their efforts seem honest in a non anarchistic or over volatile way. That's why I chose them over other organizations. I do admire Greenpeace but I'm not sure they always have their heads screwed on right. They can come across as a bit desperate. These are desperate times I guess.

Well normally I don't affiliate myself with any party at all. So it was a big day when I became a member of The World Wildlife Fund. I gave them a membership fee and they gave me a hat. I paid the fee for a few years and made a donation on occasion which never amounted to more than 25 dollars at a time. Presently I don't think I am a member. Recently they asked me for 16 dollars. I wanted desperately to give it but right now I don't even have 5 dollars.

I always wish I could put my music to more good but people will only pay a pittance for music. Would anyone pay if I announced that I would play 30 gigs a month and ask for WWF donations and a small fee for my own expenses? I think in honesty, most folks would begrudge a musician anything even if they were desperate to save the planet. I think it would come down to mistrust. As we all know trust makes the world go round. They'd be afraid I'd run off and spend the money on sex drugs and alcohol. It's also a little disappointing as a musician that people would say that they wouldn't give me money for entertaining them but they would help the planet if I wasn't there. Not too inspiring for the old artistic ego. In fact if I don't get paid soon for a gig, then I too will be on the endangered species list.

But supposing by a miracle that I got my small wage and still raised 300 extra at every gig. That would be a handsome chunk of change to benefit the WWF as opposed to zero. I once proposed an idea to CD Baby (Online sales company that helps me sell CDs) that perhaps there was a way that a dollar from each of my sales could be automatically diverted to the WWF. Unfortunately it didn't work out. I figured I could afford a slow dollar trickle but not a mass donation.

I'd certainly love to make useful music. In many ways I feel I've said most of what I've had to say. Now I'm just stagnating and getting repetitive. I'd like to put my experiences to work.

Meanwhile, the world continues to degenerate. There will come a moment when it is now or never even more so than it is today. That's a tongue twister. Our world leaders will be politely swept aside and true representatives of a common good for all that lives on this sole known wildlife reservation in the solar system with begin to truly tidy up. (Dream on.) This world needs more than patching now. Major surgery and focus and solution is now required or we will be the next Mars. No matter what your political affiliation is, saving our planet is always a good idea. Once it's safe then everyone will at least have a place to argue. Right now, what are this planet's chances of survival? No one is talking about that yet. Are they 50/50 yet? Or are we beyond that already? Where is the bookmakers money? What are they saying? They seldom lose.


Me and Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt seemed to enjoy hunting. He was always at it. Blasting away at buffalo and rhinos and elephants like there was no tomorrow. Finally he realized one day that there would indeed be no tomorrow for a lot of the species he was killing off. It took him a lifetime of killing before he decided to invent the National Park system in order to help preserve endangered American Wildlife. The very wildlife he'd been annihilating for decades. The National parks were actually designed to save Teddy from his own savage instincts. Round of applause for Teddy.

When I was a wee boy of about ten, there was an abandoned estate near our village. It was called Cowden Hall. The house that once stood there had long since rotted away and been smothered by weeds and ivy. In the estate's heyday, the grounds had been planted with over a hundred tree species from all over the commonwealth.

One morning I was stalking around there with an air rifle. I saw a little bird, a blue tit, tweeting on a branch. It was only a few strides to one side of my gun barrel. I took careful aim and pulled the trigger. The song stopped abruptly. The little bird tumbled off its perch and dropped like a plum line onto the grass. I stooped over it. All I could think was, "What have I done?" There was no satisfaction: only remorse and anger over my own stupidity. I never shot at any living thing again.

What strikes me odd about this tale is how a 10 year old boy can catch on so quick that killing for fun is bad, whereas our good friend Ted and his illustrious colleagues must have wiped out half of Africa before they got the message. They only copped on when hunting began to get more difficult. They were forced to stop because there wasn't much to shoot (at least not without leaving the safety of their car). Perhaps they should have shot each other. In my mind I wonder if they are just restocking the pool.


Simple Thinking on a Radical Scale.


Recycling old ships.

As the ice caps melt and Polar bears starve, can't old liner and tanker ships be welded together and landscaped into giant ice bergs. Make them miles and miles long. Paint them white. Let ice accumulate. Let krill and other ocean nutrients swim around them. Let seal colonies thrive on them. Polar bears can rest and hunt on them. Let the sun reflect off them.

Why can't the world use species on a "Land left fallow" basis? For example: No salmon hunting for 2 years while we eat a more plentiful fish on a different healthier food chain. Then repeat this process with tuna. Perhaps farming our game food is better but I am only throwing out ideas. I am after all a musician not a professional gamekeeper. Common sense is all I know.

Back when I was a kid with my World of Wildlife magazine subscription, I entered a competition to win a safari trip for 2 to Kenya. I had filled it all in but hesitated to post it because no one wanted to go with me. I wondered if dogs were allowed. My Mother wasn't really a "Let's all go to Kenya", kind of housewife. In the end I never posted it and I have never yet been to Kenya.

In reality even if we successfully patch the world together for the next 50 years, I will never see it in its true glory. It must have been a wonderful sight only 300 years ago. Even 150 years ago. We can only imagine what it must have been like to see flocks of birds, miles long, Schools of whales stretching to the horizons, Herds of buffalo merging one into the other for the width of a continent. That will not be seen again in my lifetime. Now if I only had 16 dollars to give the World Wildlife Fund. Jeez, if I only had 16 dollars for anything.