I think we all wonder what and who had the biggest influence on our careers, and life in general. What made us who we are, and what experiences will shape us in the future? The question raised itself for me again when my Grandad recently died, at the ripe old age of 92. We shared a great deal of time together and I like to think I have moulded myself on his morals. My abiding memory, apart from his big, wrinkly dry fingers, were our walks together on the South Downs. He was nothing more than an amateur botanist, but in my eyes he was a walking nature encyclopedia. There is no doubt our time spent together sent me on a path towards conservation management.
Yet my Grandad wasn’t the only elderly gentleman who had a lasting effect on me from an early age. There was a mystery figure from a distant memory in my mind. I could recall that every week this gentle man would appear in our living room and talk about rural life. I remember reeds gently swaying on the edge of a river and his shed – a shed full of fishing tackle, tools and probably other useful items for a man of the country.
I had tried several times to track this man down, but each time I had hit a dead wall, until this morning. This morning nearly 20 years of wondering (albeit sporadically) bore fruit. My memory of this man, I reckoned, dated to the very late 70s and more likely the early 80s. It turns out he had been gracing our TV screens, certainly those in the Southern region, since the 1959.
So who was this man? Jack Hargreaves. He is probably most famous for Out of Town that ran for 15 years. I think my memories of him can be attributed to both this and the follow up programme Old Country. His relaxed and gentle insight into rural life has stayed with me all my life and has no doubt influenced my career. He brought me into his world and thirty years later it still resonates – I can only hope that the interpretation we deliver today will have such a lasting impact on others.
The first video is great lesson for interpreters – don’t preach…
This next video is one of a few remaining episodes of ‘Old Country’, with great bird song (mainly Blackbirds) in the background. Enjoy!