Colin Willock - A Life on the Wild Side

World Pheasant Association £19.95
ISBN 0 906864 65 8

Colin Willock is the most wonderful writer. I grew up with his Survival series and still haven’t tired of the generation of nature programmes that followed in its wake, though none of them quite manage to recreate the slightly breathless atmosphere of that early series. The amazing thing is that Survival would probably never have been made if the management at Rediffusion hadn’t gone slightly mad and allowed Colin to make a program about a maggot factory near Yiewsley. The description of his visit there with a pre-Birt camera crew is definitely a classic, and as is his account of his almost immediate transfer to Nineteenth Century Fox, otherwise known as Anglia Television.

Apart from the maggots, there isn’t much fishing, but Colin’s encounters with animals and people totally engrossing and I don’t get to read much about hippos in the normal course of events. The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that it seems to have been printed on recycled toilet paper, with a particularly substandard grade reserved for the covers. If the contents weren’t so entertaining, A Life on the Wild Side would even now be hanging on a hook in the outside khazi. If I have ever seen a book which deserves to be reprinted as a quality hardback, this one is it.