22 June 2012

Little Eco Dreams: Monty Halls

On Wednesday evening, I was lucky enough to go to a talk by adventurer, conservationist and marine biologist, Monty Halls. Monty Halls has worked his way into the television scenes over the last few years, starting with adventure expeditions, most notably Great Ocean Adventures, and Great Barrier Reef. He then posted himself up into the inner and then the outer Hebrides for a few months at a time, living in a one roomed hut with a very bouncy rescue dog called Reuben. His most recent appearance on television was in BBC's The Fisherman's Apprentice. This series was particularly important as it raised awareness, both of the unsustainable nature of our current fishing policies, and of the need to support the small boat fishing industry. Fishermen are forced to throw back incredible amounts of dead fish back into the sea, either because the fish caught is unsaleable due to government regulations or because businesses refuse to buy fish if it is not selling for a premium. To combat this, Monty has set up a local co-operative where local fishermen reserve some of their catch to sell to locals in a kind of veg box scheme. It is utterly amazing to me that this hasn't already been in place, but you can thank EU polices for that.

During the talk, Monty discussed his path to his TV career -from a Royal Marine, to university exploration leader, to hitting television entry level with Superhuman. The stories and anecdotes were funny, engaging and fascinating. A running slideshow played the most awe inspiring set of photographs and films. The battle between my career ambitions of either building surveying (currently winning) and marine biology was reignited. At the very least, I am considering a gap year more seriously -spending the British winter in Australia volunteering around the Great Barrier Reef, and the summer in a cut-off wildlife reserve.
Throughout the talk, Monty's infamous and much-loved Reuben was on stage, drawing in a crowd of admirers during the interval. And, unfortunately, a stalker-style woman who took hundreds of photos throughout the second half. Please don't ever use flash photography at any event, talk or performance. It is incredibly off-putting and distracting to everyone in the space.

Coincidentally we happened to be sat just in front of a teacher of mine. When, the next day, I remarked to her that I hadn't realized that Monty Halls had started off in the armed forces, she gushed "Oh but you could tell couldn't you? My husband remarked that he was very tall and I just..  ahh".

Well there you have it. Funny, caring, and manly enough to set sensible women swooning. I think that calls for another television series being commissioned!

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