I was at Galapagos Day last night, an annual event held by the Galapagos Conservation Trust at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Last year’s speakers were so terrific – with Sir David Attenborough, Andrew Marr and Felipe Cruz – that I did think it was an impossible act to follow.
And so it proved. The problem was Stanley Johnson (far left), a writer and the father of the somewhat more famous Boris. He spent 15 minutes showing off photographs from his latest trip to Galapagos. Now, it is not difficult to take a passable, even a very good photograph in this wonderful place but Johnson had failed spectacularly. His commentary was little better. “This is a penguin,” he said of one slide. “This is another penguin,” he said of the next. “Here is a sea lion. And another.” And so on.
Ironically, his photographs were so bad and his commentary so thin that the whole thing became quite an entertaining farce. Unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with the gravitas of the evening’s theme “Galapagos, where next?” And I do wonder what Johnson’s illustrious co-speakers – the Ecuadorian ambassador to London Anita Alban Mora, the executive director of the Charles Darwin Foundation Dr Gabriel Lopez and botanist Sarah Darwin – made of his irreverent style.