Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections: Cheryl Tipp

Cheryl Tipp | 23rd December 2016

…In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back on the past twelve months and share their moments;

I’m not quite sure how I feel about 2016. It’s been an odd one, that’s for sure. There have been amazing punch-the-sky highs and then there have been moments of overwhelming despair and doubt. Most of the boxes on the Tipp emotional scale have been ticked at some point over the last 12 months and it’s left me pretty much knackered. But rather than invite you to my own personal pity party, I thought I’d give you the low down on some of the best bits of the past year that still leave me smiling.

1. The phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race. The term “untuck” will never mean the same thing again.

2. Meeting my own personal Jesus, Sir David Attenborough. Ok, so that might be taking it a bit far, but this encounter is one that I’ll never forget. Firstly, because he is one of the major reasons why I decided to study Zoology, and secondly because I found myself arguing with the great man over the common name of an extinct bird. Not joking. As I was talking with this national treasure, part of my brain was shouting “Oh my God, I can’t believe it, I’m talking to David Attenborough, my hero, yayyyy!!!”. The other part of my brain was screaming “Oh fuck, you’re arguing with David Attenborough!! What are you doing??? Stop it you fool, stop it!!” My groupie self was engaged in a full on internal battle with my professional self. We did eventually reach a consensus on the name (thank Christ) and it was an absolute honour to guide him through some of the gems found within the sound archive’s wildlife collection.

3. Winning an enormous pile of tat on Brighton Pier. Is there anyone who doesn’t love a well-stocked 2p machine? I left clutching my hard earned superhero keyrings like Gollum with his Precious.

4. Working towards completing the first draft of my book and discovering all manner of sea-related anecdotes. The tale about the farting herring is still my absolute favourite.

5. Standing transfixed underneath a convoy of Brent Geese returning from the Siberian tundra as the sun began to set over Pagham Harbour. Oblivious to the small huddle of people silently watching their arrival, a seemingly endless stream of individuals continued to pass overhead, chattering to each other as they approached the wintering grounds that have sustained them for generations.

The unequivocal highlight of 2016, without a doubt, has to be the arrival of my nephew into the world. I’m already building up an impressive stash of nature-related goodies for when he’s old enough and can’t wait to introduce him to the wonders of the natural world. I want to teach him how to identify the wildlife around him, by sound as well as by sight, so that he too develops a deep relationship with nature that should stand him in good stead throughout his life. I’ve failed miserably with my boyfriend and brother but I have high hopes for this little man.

It’s a little bit early for New Year’s resolutions but I think I’m going to keep it simple in 2017. So here’s to health, happiness and watching the complete boxset of Xena: Warrior Princess. 6 seasons spread over 36 discs await me and if that’s not something to conquer then I don’t know what is.

Cheryl Tipp on Caught by the River / on Twitter