Our version of a British institution with a natural history twist - what would you pick?
Chris Booth: Digitiser, L&A Collection
You are marooned on a desert island and are allowed to take 8 flora and fauna with you. Which ones would you select and why?
Assuming I knew I was going to be marooned for a very long time I’d bring a very focussed selection of: hops, barley, sugar cane, banana, butternut squash, bamboo, aloe, and a dog.
Beer creation being the objective of the first three choices but hops can also alleviate inflammation, and sugar would be a good chewy mood-lifter. Bananas for their deliciousness and the leaves making excellent crockery. Butternut squash (or any gourd) left to dry out would make a superb container for the aforementioned beer and they taste good if I absolutely had to do something besides drinking my despair away. Bamboo because it’s a wonderful construction material and I would need to craft a shelter quickly otherwise my fair skin would be burned all the time. Hence the aloe until my shelter is up and running… I suppose I could also wile away the long weeks and months by becoming adept at basketry as well? The dog is for company and amusement. I don’t have a dog at the moment but I know my cats would disappear as soon as they noticed that they could. A dog probably wouldn’t. I’d hope.
You are rescued, but can only take one back with you. Which one would it be and why?
Well it would be very cruel if I decided to rescue my collection of dried gourds so I suppose I would have to rescue my hops. Only kidding, the dog would come home with me and we could bore bus stop strangers to death with our tales of sand getting stuck to the aloe and teeth rotting away from excessive sugar consumption.
You can take one item from the L&A collections with you, what would it be and why?
Alfred Russel Wallace’s ‘The Malay Archipelago’ would be my choice. It sounds like an excellent read but I’ve not tried it yet, despite having wanted to for a number of years. If I was lucky enough to be marooned in the Malay Archipelago I could at least hope to identify something familiar in the book. Hopefully it describes some poisonous endemic beasties for me to avoid too.
'Ejecting an intruder' taken fron The Malay Archipleago by Alfred Russel Wallace (1874) NHM image: 033800
You can have one luxury with you on the island what would it be?
My Kindle. It’s got so many books on it already that I believe I would be supplied for about a year as it is, without re-reading. I could also cheat the system by quickly loading pictures of my loved ones onto it before I go - sneaky, eh! Though that would suggest I had prior knowledge of my marooning, so why would I put myself in that situation in the first place?