10. Early times: The Primordial Soup, the first Eukaryotas, the pre-Cambrian explosion, the Cambrian to Jurassic radiation, the K-T event, the rise of the mammals, the naked ape mutations and the discovery of hunting, farming, the local council and 'civilisation'.Do we have a remembrance day for the Primordial Soup? No! We should have. Humans spend more time thinking about Cup-A-Soup than the early broth from which we were all concocted. Anyway, putting that aside, I don't have much memory of my early days but thanks to writing (yay!!) I can download those memory files.
The K-T event- not much memory of this although my DNA survived it. My DNA reckons it was one of those 'at- times -like -this -the -words- oh -bolloxs- spring- to- mind -times'
Where it all began (artist's impression).
9. Paul and the Apostles of Jesus (BC/ AD boundary)
I was brought up in a fundamental Christian cult which basically taught me the importance of rebelling against anything that walks and talks like a load of nonsense i.e. the cult I was in. The irony of institutional Christianity and its rituals which are in stark contrast to the revolutionary spirit of Jesus and his apostles (who basically advocated symbiosis, creativity and de-centralised autonomy over centralised state/institutional power and rituals and encouraged direct rebellion against the system- to the death if required) was not wasted on me. It set my course for challenging any ideological framework no matter how big (think about the former power of institutional Christianity and its now redundancy).
Out of the early Christian hell raisers, who basically started off a global revolution- Paul was my favourite. He started off life slaughtering Christians but later converted and became the biggest advocate of Christianity- not an easy thing to pull off, 'sorry I slaughtered your mum can I join your group? '. He then travelled around causing riots and turning the people against the government and got them forming independent communities,( a spiritual concept that would later evolve into E-bay) and on his third missionary journey, where he was a Roman prisoner (for causing so much trouble), he survived a ship wreck on Malta (where my mum is from) only to make it to Rome to tell the good news to Caesar Nero who had him executed after Nero heard the message that Love is All You Need.
You got to laugh at that. That why Paul is my favourite.
Paul winding up the locals
8. Frederick 2nd of Hohenstaufen (1194-1250)
Also known as the original Hoff this gezer was one of the first to work out that you can wind up those in 'authority' just by looking at birds and wildlife. Ex-communicated twice and treated as the Antichrist by Pope Gregory IX , Dante placed him in the sixth circle of his hell, reserved for heretics. Like most early birders, he was a hunter and also a falconer and compiled his observations in a book De arte venandi cum avibus (On the art of hunting with Birds) which actually covered all kinds of aspects of birds and bird behaviour. Papal troops burnt the original manuscript (birding and observation of nature is always one of the greatest acts of rebellion against a power house that wants individual attention directed towards serving their ridiculous version of reality- the Capitalists being the modern incarnation of such dicks) but a copy was sent to Rome. The work was not unearthed until the 18th Century by ornithologists and was not fully printed until 1943. Hope there for all the apparently pointless recording that modern naturalists and organisations like the BTO do at the present which the Capitalist's wipe their arses with. These systems of recording and monitoring nature that we are inventing now should be of some use to more enlightened future generations if anyone survives the latest incarnation of human induced global cataclysm.
The modern day Hoff claimed by some in Croydon to be an impostor of the original and best Hoff
7. Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811) and the C18th fathers of modern ornithology
If these midguided fools ever knew that the cutting face of all their work would end up first in the hands of Gantlett and Millington's Birding World journal and then spill over into a massive internet fart of birdforum posts, tweets and facebook likes I think they would have done the only sensible and noble thing available at the time- shoot themselves in their country houses. However lucky for the likes of Kevin McManus (our local homeless bird group member) and bottom dwelling creatures such as myself they didn't have a fucking clue that democracy and freedom was coming and every oik and harlot would soon be able to contribute to the great ornithological project- forming an inventory and management system for the avian natural world to go forward into the Anthropecene following the Capitalist's apocalypse.
The list of ermine cloaked wigged fathers of ornithology is extensive, Thomas Bewick, Morten Thrane Brunnich, Carl Linnaeus, the Reverend Gilbert White and other kiddy fiddler looking men headed up the stampede- a stampede that would later lead to legends in our own life time such as Lee Geoffrey Evans and Garry Messenbird. However my favourite of all is Peter Pallas- he was a great explorer (actually went out in the field rather then sending other people out and then taking all the credit for it) and spent six years exploring the Urals, the Caspian sea area and South China, writing it all up in the 1771 Reisen durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russichen Reiches.
Called by the Russian Imperial Court to work at the Academy of Saint Petersburg, he was a medical doctor and zoologist and was summonsed personally by the Empress Catherine the Great to lead a mission to Siberia whose main motive, behind all the pomp, was to compete with Western Powers and whip their arses in exploiting natural resources and bring the entire planet to the brink of extinction, unbeknown to them, a cunning plan by nature herself to form a blueprint from the furnace of that apocalypse for a continually re-booting and updating planetary system- where they would work very hard towards their own redundancy and the empowerment of others that they despised. All the ermine, whigs and external displays of material power were the price they had to pay (or in their warped minds the reward) to maintain their own delusions, kill themselves off, get the job done and hand the reigns of power to a group of plebs dressed up as Badgers.
In short, Peter Pallas is my favourite because he has the same name as me! Awesome!!
Brian May, as well as singing Fat Bottom Girls he is also considered by some as the saviour of the entire natural world and is charged by Mother Nature herself with catapulting the Linnaen System, the global taxonomy, blueprints for biodiversity action plan habitats, vulnerability classification systems, the modern recording systems and extensive catalogue of keys works of the entire ornithological effort from antiquity to present through the bottle neck of the Capitalist's apocalypse and into the Sustainable Future.
6. Francois Levaillant (1753-1824) and the Golden Age of Ornithology Boys
I better speed this up. So ornithology went on and a load of wealthy play boys (Temminck, Lichtenstein, Coeus, Baird, Wilson, Bonaparte etc etc) went round collecting specimens and listing all the bird species on the planet and stuck them in museums after they (metaphorically speaking) stuck them up each others arses in some early version of competitive world listing. This was to be the foundation of the Surrey Big Day, where local birders like myself from Beddington Sewage Farm could dash around the vice county of Surrey and tick off any species they could see in 24 hours from a list that had been compiled by the 1858 founded British Ornithological Union ( and had been transferred into user friendly (pleb versions) fieldguides and apps) part of a universal effort of global and regional taxonomists/ornithologists to combine museum and field data to form the closest fit possible to the natural world order of avian diversity. Different groups from local patches of Surrey now compete in the Surrey Big Day to see who can see as many species as possible- the winners get fuck all.
Francois Levaillant- my favourite one of the 'Golden Boys'- from the C19th Golden Age of Ornithology - he is my favourite because he looks a bit like Derek from Derek and Clive . Apologies to the feminists here but there really wasn't many women involved in early ornithology but like all things it looks like it is going to be the girls who ultimately save the planet and its birds from the silly games that men play and from idiots like me.
Tune in tomorrow for the top 5!