Editor's Page 00-07-1987
A self-explanatory editorial.
Editor's Page by Christopher Long
One of the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of sitting at this desk is the remarkable parade of talent that troops in and out of the office each day.
Just when the mountains of paperwork, layers of layouts and the non-stop ringing of the telephone lead one to the verge of desperation, in walks someone with a truly remarkable tale or quite exceptional photography and, as often as not, a bizarre and riveting expertise in a subject so obscure that life suddenly becomes worth living again.
Norman Fuller is just such a one. Mr Fuller spends a great deal of time photographing insects, it seems. Where you and I might be quite pleased actually to have caught a butterfly in the frame of our camera, Mr Fuller is not satisfied unless he succeeds in catching his insects in flight, frozen in space, at a shutter-speed fast enough to capture the beat of wings which, in some instances, can move at speeds of up to 1,000 up-and-down wing cycles per second.
From observations of this kind he can, not surprisingly, go on to tell us just how insects manage to fly at all. As you will see in this issue, he proceeds to do just that and his photography alone is worth more than just a second glance.
By contrast Meriel Larken arrived one day with an almost equally improbable suggestion. Would I, she wanted to know, be at all interested in a ship the size of a small destroyer which had been carried in small pieces up the Andes to a height of 12,500 ft each piece no larger than a mule could carry?
It's hard to think of a suitable reply to such a proposition. The result, however, is her article The Old Lady of the Lake in which she describes not only the epic model-making exercise carried out on Lake Titicaca but also her personal crusade to restore the steam-ship Yavari to its original Victorian glory.
Not to be outdone, Rosemary Catford turned up one day with an equally fathomless question. Did I know, she asked, that there is a singularly unprepossessing plant which not only chooses to live in the Namibian Desert but then insists on defying all reasonable expectations by having a life-span of between 1,000 and 2,000 years.
Having spent some time in Namibia I felt I would like to have said: "Yes, of course!"
Instead I learnt details of this and many other extraordinary desert phenomena the easy way studying her feature and photography at my desk.
As in past issues the trail of talent flows remorselessly. Few people know more about Madagascar than John Mack which explains why it was he who was chosen to mount a major exhibition about the island, now showing at the Museum of Mankind in London.
Dr Rosaly Lopes took time off from observing the heavens at the Royal Observatory to explain with considerable authority why a potato-shaped moon the size of the Isle of Wight should suddenly be the focus of attention for astronomers around the world.
Helen Long emerged with a strange tale of a solitary bat miles from its hearth and home, while Richard Revels insisted that it was time Britain's more spectacular but much neglected fungi were explored. It must be long time since a fungus acquired cover-girl status and made it to the front-cover on good-looks alone.
And so the list continues with Operation Raleigh's Col. John Blashford-Snell and the inspired head of the BBC Natural History Unit keeping company with giraffes, aborigines, badgers, Burma and the Okavango Delta and all the animals which Ros Drinkwater met at the London Zoo.
But the real purpose for saying all this is that the range and extent of writing and photographic talent in Britain is quite staggering. It's a pleasure for all of us here to have tapped much of it and leads me to believe that the arrival of World Magazine has in fact turned out to be long overdue.
So long as so much talent continues to walk through my door I shall cope with all those editorial rigours. And if it should ever dry up I note that John Worral, Anna Milford and Nick Crane offer me an escape in the form of The Cook Islands, Cairo, or a hot air balloon, respectively!
© (1987) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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