Friday, 1 August 2014

A tribute to a remarkable man... Herbert C Burrow author of Animal Stories For The Young

I have been a bit behind lately due to a much needed break away to Valencia. It was a fab holiday and given me lots of memories to cherish. I took myself offline and armed myself with Herbert C Burrow’s autobiography to read while I lazed about. I have been meaning to read this for ages but things always get in the way and I am pretty shattered come the evenings. Anyway I did it, I completed the book and am so pleased I did. I have worked with some interesting characters over the years but Mr Burrow is top of the list for leading such an extraordinary life with an alien abductee coming a very close second (that’s a whole blog in itself he he)

I have worked with Mr Burrow now for two years on his Animal Stories For The Young books. What is truly remarkable though is it will be his 100th birthday this December. I am currently working on the 3rd Volume and we are pushing to get this published just in time for the big occasion. He is even half way through writing the 4th Volume! I find it so inspirational that he is still writing and painting to this day. I hope I have as much passion and determination in my later years.

Close friends will tell you, I am not the most enthusiastic person when it comes to reading non fiction or anything that requires you to concentrate for more than ten minutes, I have a very short attention span! I know that’s a terrible thing to admit to, I am more your easy reading and pretty pictures kinda gal. Saying that I am a sucker for a really good gritty crime or horror story. But I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this and have gained a whole new respect for the man. So much so that I wanted to do a little blog in tribute to him.

His autobiography “It all Began in the Garden of Eden” covers his fascinating career working with the British Council. He was 29 years old when he took over running the B.C. in Iraq, the beginning of a long career of zigzagging across the world to very different countries. With 15 postings in 13 countries - Iraq, Algiers, Morocco, Tunisia, London, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Ghana and France. It was fascinating reading about all of the experiences that were had throughout his life as he spread the word, encouraging the use of the English language and establishing cultural relations with other countries. The peaceful nature of this task was often carried out under a state of violence and political upheaval. Faced with unusual and dramatic situations such as being held hostage in the British Embassy in Baghdad for the month of May 1941 when a pro-German group of Iraqi Generals staged a coup He often had to rely on his own initiative to get himself out of some pickles and always managed to retain his good sense of humour. He and his wife of 58 years were quite the team, up heaving themselves with each posting and turning what little they were given into a family home. They both were very respected in the communities and met many well known names as a result. It was fascinating reading about the cultural and political life in these countries during one of the most eventful periods of modern history - the Second World War and its aftermath. 

A fascinating man and someone I have grown very fond of, my only regret is that our paths did not cross earlier on in my life. My Dad would have loved listening to his tales, such a shame we couldn’t of shared that together. I have certainly learned a few things since working with him.

In the meantime I shall carry on working on the 3rd edition of Animal Stories For The Young. He is very fond of animals and these books are a lovely collection of short animal stories with characters you can’t help but fall in love with. What makes them stand out though are all the little tit bits of information he throws in about animals that he has come across over the years. He had many strange pets and has told me some stories you would find hard to believe like how his little pet parrot Perky sat on his finger throughout the whole flight between Rio to Thailand! The purpose of these books are to stimulate affection for animals instead of treating them just as pets. I think he accomplished what he has set out to do.

I will leave you with a little collection of my favourite characters so far from The Animal Stories of The Young collection....