I really enjoyed this: Sir Vivian Fuchs lived the sort of life that tested his powers of reliance and self-reliance to the limit.Born to the dismay of his maternal family as a result of his mother's love for a young German engineer just before WW1 he received a peripatetic upbringing as his father was interned on the Isle of Man during the war. The family's assets we're sequestered until 1927. The family's determination not to yield to popular opinion was demonstrated by their maintaining the surname rather than Anglicising it to Fox.This would prove a godsend to some sub-editor years later who was able to go with, DR FUCHS OFF TO AMERICA although this may have referred to someone else.Fuchs graduates from Cambridge with a geology degree having whetted his taste for ridiculously dangerous expeditions by going to Greenland where mountaineering and being chased by polar bears were routine.Field trips to Kenya followed which tested his mettle to the extreme, while carrying out useful survey work he collected many animal specimens by rifle and played games with leopards who stole his meat supply.It's a wonder there are any animals left in Africa the rate he bumped them off.He collected a wife before his second trip and together they drove all the way home through Africa to Tangier using chameleons to distract border guards.The danger of the trip was highlighted by the complete disappearance of two colleagues that he had left surveying a small island on a lake.No mobile signal I expect.Their equipment was later discovered by George Adamson of "Born Free" fame but the bodies were never recovered.With his East African experience and language skills Fuchs was naturally posted, during WW2, to West Africa.Later he was sent to Germany where he ran a small fiefdom until demobilised.
At a loose end his next move was to apply to the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey and made such an impression at interview that they put him in charge of the whole show.This was to underpin the rest of his life, his aptitude and leadership skills married to his adventurousness and serious scientific endeavour turned him into a legend which culminated in a knighthood for leading the first transantarctic crossing from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea accompanied by Sir Edmond Hillary.They certainly made heavy weather of a journey that, today, can be accomplished by a slight blonde children's TV presenter pulling her own sledge and wearing make up hastily reapplied after kayaking down the Amazon.No wonder men feel emasculated.Was Sir Vivian the last great man of Empire? My wife gets worried if I go for a jog around the block. "Have you got your phone in case you fall?"Inadequate? You bet. At least I've never had to shoot my huskies.
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