British author, broadcaster and environmental campaigner David Bellamy spoke to The Independent Online about his childhood dream of becoming a ballet dancer, his talent for remembering Latin names of plants and why he wishes he'd danced with Margot Fonteyn.
What would you normally be doing if you weren't talking me?
I'd be brewing a nice cup of tea to take on a walk around the garden
Is there a phrase you use all the time?
I say 'Wow' a lot. We live in a wonderful world and if we are good to it, it is good to us.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Sadly no, but still I live in hope! My only real talent is remembering the Latin names of plants. There is even a stone near Ravenstor Youth Hostel in the Peak District where it first happened. From that moment on, I have travelled the world talking to flowers and with people about flowers.
Describe the house you grew up in.
Early 30's semi-detached, with a great view towards the skyline of London. It got knocked around a bit during the blitz and by doodlebugs. I was fortunate enough to have a disused brickworks and municiple dump to play on and discover the wonders of natural history.
What did you want to be as a child?
A ballet dancer, believe it or not, thanks to BBC Children's Hour production of Ballet Shoes. Alas, I grew too big but i am still a patron of the West Midlands Youth Ballet and I am trying to finish the story of my second ballet. The first was called Heritage and was about the Queen's hidden garden, Buckingham Palace to be exact.
Name a book, song or movie that changed your life.
The Girl of Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter. It's a schmaltzy novel set in the time when the wetlands of America were being destroyed. Many of which are now being rehabilitated.
What advice do you wish you'd received when you were younger?
Stand up for yourself, no matter how much it hurts.
What one thing would you save if your house was on fire?
The first photograph I took of my wife, Rosemary.
What's your greatest regret?
That I never danced with Margot Fonteyn in Ondine.
If you could meet anyone from history who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would ask Sir Winston Churchill why, on June 4, he stated: ‘The whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.’