Her mother encouraged her curiosity about the natural world
She didn’t get mad when I took earthworms to bed with me. She said, “Let’s take them back in the garden or they might die.” And there’s a well-known story of when I disappeared for four hours while staying on a farm when I was about 4 years old. My mom called the police.and then she saw me rushing towards the house, happy and excited about something. And instead of getting angry she sat down to hear the story: I had been waiting to see where on earth the eggs came out of the hens. I was in the back of the henhouse for four hours.
She’s still not comfortable with fame
I’ve become this icon that I never planned or wanted … Children jump up and down. People cry; a lot of people cry. We’ve had people come up in a book signing line after a lecture sobbing and we’ve had to sit them down and talk to them; ‘It’s all right. After you calm down, Jane will answer your questions.’
[In the beginning] I hid, I ran away and put on dark glasses and kept my head down. And then I realized, well, I can use this to further the cause. People want a selfie or an autograph, then they get a little environmentally friendly brochure about our programs, inviting them to join.
Basically, there are two Janes. There’s this one at the home where I always was, where I’m exactly the same, and then that one out there. And all I can do is try and keep up with the one out there.
She gets sent lots of children’s artwork
Massive numbers of chimps.
It’s hard to maintain a work-life balance...
I can’t sleep at night very often because I’ve got so much to do. It’s like a heavy cloud that’s sitting on me. Right now, I’ve got at least six videos to record and two of them are lectures, and lecturing virtually is really difficult. You don’t get the energy you would get in an auditorium and the feedback, the laughing and enthusiastic response. It’s just looking at the little green camera spot on a laptop. And every night there are things I haven’t done. Sometimes I feel guilty if I’m not answering emails at 10 o’clock at night. And then I tell myself, “This is stupid.”
... But she finds ways to relax
In the evening when mum was alive we’d raise glasses wherever she was and wherever I was in the world. Now I’m so exhausted by the time it gets to be 7 o’clock. I go downstairs and my sister’s there, my niece is cooking dinner, and I have a whiskey. I drink it and raise a glass to mum. I’ve done this all over the world, wherever I am.
And every day at lunchtime I spend an hour, I take the old dog for a little walk and sometimes I go for a brisker walk myself. And then I spend at least a half hour under my favorite tree that I climbed as a child, and I’m visited by a robin and a blackbird. One of the robins comes every day — every single day — and we sometimes sing to each other.