Remember how I said that one of the best things about not having a significant other to buy a Christmas present for was that you could spend more on yourself? Well, just after Christmas I had momentarily forgotten that I’d bought myself a wine tasting course and so decided to check out what The Independent auction had on offer because they were raising money for one of my favourite causes – to help save the elephants – who are potentially going to be extinct by 2035 if we don’t all do something about it very soon.
I had highlighted what I wanted to target – lunch at the Wolseley with Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer – not only was that one of my favourite books as a young adult, but The Wolseley is one of my favourite restaurants. I won’t go in to how much I bogged up the bidding process, but suffice to say I ended up making a very generous donation to Space For Giants to help support their work and had a subsequent email from Nicholas saying “I can’t believe you spent all that money to have lunch with me! But thank you so much. You must really love elephants”.
On arrival at the restaurant yesterday, I met Jeremy King, the owner of The Wolseley who had not only made a donation but provided our lunch as well which was fabulous. The restaurant used to be an old car showroom:-
I had such a lovely time. What an interesting man he is. We talked about all manner of things – including his well publicised brush with death over eating poisonous mushrooms. You really cannot contemplate the horror of that event and subsequent long term issues – it is the stuff of nightmares. Thankfully he is now looking fit and well and at one stage he proudly patted his new kidney – courtesy of his daughter – there cannot be a greater father and daughter bond than that.
His daughter was in fact the reason why I came to be having lunch with him. He agreed to put himself on the auction list because her partner Max Graham runs the Space For Elephant’s charity in Kenya and she spends much of her time out there when she’s not busy working her way through her PHD on human-elephant conflict connected with electric fences at Cambridge.
We talked about elephants and about Africa and about life – kids, partners, guilt, new beginnings, writing, reading and so on. It is very clear to me that he is a man who has been given a new lease of life and he is savouring every minute, which is good to see and lovely for his youngest son who gets to have his dad back on the side of the football pitch. I’m sure for a twelve year old nothing else matters (apart from his phone and Facebook and his mother of course).
He gave me all FIVE of his books – in HARDBACK and all personally signed. So, to be honest, I couldn’t think of a better way to give money to charity – it was worth every penny.
Here we are at the end of the meal – not sure why I am clutching my wine glass quite so protectively….
Here I am leaving looking very pleased with myself:-
Now it just remains to be seen what the charity are going to be spending the over half a million pounds they have raised (!!!). I’m looking forward to reporting back on that. Maybe one day I’ll get out there to have a look. Having experienced first hand the danger of elephants that trample fences (I refer to the following blog post entitled There’s An Elephant In My Bathroom I am well aware of the challenges they face, not only with the human-wildlife conflict but with the massive increase in the ivory trade of late (more about that in a separate post).