I’m sure you were as shocked as I was by the sight of Notre Dame in flames, it felt as if western civilisation was going up in smoke in front of us. I remember visiting the cathedral as a teenager and hearing divine music, thinking I was having a religious epiphany and then realising that it was Fauré’s Requiem being played on speakers.
The Notre Dame fire got me thinking about other institutions that we hold dear and may perhaps take for granted. What are we going to do when David Attenborough dies? The man is now 92 years old, he can’t go on narrating nature forever. In a recent poll of 2000 people in the UK, Attenborough was voted the number one most trusted celebrity, and it’s no surprise. With measured tone and cargo pants he has brought the natural world into our living rooms. The animals know him, they feel comfortable mating in front of him, but there’s no succession planning, no assistant, no Deputy David. A visiting alien species might even consider him a God. Who else gets an above-the-title-credit when the title is Planet Earth?