Usually when I write to the B.B.C. I get no reply, presumably because they get so many letters they don’t have time to reply to them all, but on 20th February, 2021 I sent the following email to

If you go to my website and then to ‘The Story of my Life’ you will find the text of my autobiography Happy Memories. If you then go to Chapter 2 and search for ‘curiosity’ you will come to ‘Curiosity is the first step on the road to knowledge’. I thought that this phrase was so profound and concise that it must be an established saying like ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, and yet when I searched for the phrase in the internet I was astonished to find that the only reference to it was from my own writing.

It occurs to me that for the phrase to be featured in ‘Quote Unquote’ might just possibly be the first step on the road to its becoming an established saying.

Three days later I received the following email from Nigel Rees, who has presented the programme for the past forty-five years, two years longer than Roy Plomley presented Desert Island Discs:

Good point. As you will see from these hits on Google Books, the more established quote is that realization of your own ignorance is the first step on the road to knowledge – which you may or may not agree is almost the same thing.

Two hours later I sent the following reply:

I am very pleased that you have found quotations similar to my own, but I feel that they all miss the point. There are many subjects, such as football, about which I am ignorant but not curious. It was curiosity about places that led to my books on the Dorset countryside and my revision of Wainwright’s Lakeland guides.

From now onwards I shall eagerly tune it to Radio 4 Extra at nine o’clock every Thursday morning hoping to find that a fragment of my writing has reached a wider audience.


I recently went through the links to my favourite songs and videos in the internet in the ‘Videos’ section of my website and found that all but four of them were still there. I have removed all references in this section to the videos that have been lost, but I have retained references to them in my blogs.

It seems to me that I was very unlucky to lose the whole of my collection and that there should be a way of recovering some of it. There should also be some way of finding out which producers of films and television programmes don’t like scenes from their programmes appearing in the internet so that these can be avoided.