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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Mike Shuttleworth 2007

There are green turtles whose feeding grounds are along the coast of Brazil, and they swim 1,400 miles to breed and lay eggs on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, half way to Africa. Ascension Island is only five miles long. Nobody knows how they find it. Two of the turtles at the Aquarium are green turtles, a large one and small one. The sign said: 'The Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, is the source of turtle soup...' I am the source of William G. soup if it comes to that. Everyone s the source of his or her own kind of soup. In a town as big as London that's a lot of soup walking about.

from Turtle Diary

Why this text, why this place?

I've been thinking a lot about turtles lately, not least because a good friend of mine has been involved in writing an environmental impact report that opposed a billion dollar gas processing plant being built right on the nesting grounds of the flat-back turtle in north west Western Australia. Seems that when the report landed on the desk of the West Australian premier Alan Carpenter he announced, hand on heart, "I will do whatever it takes to get that gas plant built". Maybe a copy of Turtle Diary should have been sent to him. So with a few million bucks slung out by the developers to the government, guess what, suddenly the problem goes away. Just the turtles, I'm thinking.

Anyway, I love the way that William G is perplexed by his own identity throughout Turtle Diary. What is it one must do in order to define who (or what) one is? I have placed the quotation on the table of Mr Tulk, the cafe attached to the State Library of Victoria. You can see the old W-class tram in the background. Books, cities, people, journeys, questions. What I love about the work of Russell Hoban.

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