The paperback for The Beauty in the Beast is out – and I am thrilled. The cover design, by Art Director Liane Payne, is innovative and wonderful (she also did the hardback cover) – I heard that she was handed my manuscript to pass on to someone in her team but was so taken by it she kept it to herself. Well, I am a big fan of hers. When you have read the book you will notice all the detail on the cover has been taken from minute details within!
But perhaps the most thrilling thing about the paperback is the foreword.
When I was at school there a few guitarists who really shook my world – Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and David Gilmour, for example – but there was one who really stood out. I wanted to sound like this guitarist even though the band he played for were a little bit unfashionable (at the time). I never managed to sound like him and then someone (probably a neighbour) stole my electric guitar and amp. I also never thought I would meet him … though I did get a quote from him for A Prickly Affair, as he had helped raise money to halt the ridiculous hedgehog cull in the Uists.
Then last year I was asked to help with the compering at the ‘Wildlife Rocks‘ event in Guildford. The wildlife extravaganza was the brain child of my idol … Brian May. Turned out I was going to be doing all the compering – introducing and thanking around 24 ‘acts’ – and at the end Brian took a copy of my book and said he would write a few lines to help. These few lines expanded into this call to action in defence of our wildlife. It is also a rather pleasing endorsement (I blushed when I read it!).
So now – for you (and you have to promise to go and buy the book if you read this!) … my royal endorsement … (this really is the closest I will ever get to the Queen!)
‘Hugh Warwick’s book The Beauty in the Beast comes at an opportune moment. It is a gentle weapon of war against those who threaten the well-being and the very existence of our precious and entirely innocent wild animals. It is timely because we all now stand at a crossroads which will determine how the human race goes forward – either in harmony with the bountiful riches of life on this blue planet, or selfishly and ignorantly, plunging the world into a sterile abyss in which humans have obliterated the rest of life on Earth.
Books that encourage us to appreciate and love the natural world are more important than ever. We have become so far removed from the magic of Nature that we need strong reminders to reconnect us. The concerns may strike us when we take a moment to wonder what kind of a world our grandchildren will inherit. We may also begin to be concerned about ecology, the balance of populations and the survival of species; biodiversity has at least become a word we are all familiar with. But a true enlightenment only comes when we realise that our concerns must go much deeper than survival of species. It is when we realise that every single creature on Earth matters that we come up against the shocking discovery that the human race has veered horribly off the tracks.
Britain, in particular, prides itself as a nation of animal lovers, yet we have turned a blind eye to a mountain of cruelty and abuse for hundreds of years. In the present day, where the Internet enables us to see into every shady corner of human activity, there is no longer any excuse for allowing cruelty to continue – this applies to all creatures, whether human or not.
My own love of Nature has always been part of my make-up but it was a gradual growth of understanding of how cruel we really are to other species that led me to take up arms against the abuse of animals. Along with a consortium of animal-aware campaigns I have been working for the past few years on ridding the countryside of the inexcusable behaviours that are justified by ‘tradition’, or blinkered views of farming husbandry which place the value of a wild animal at zero. We who work in Animal Welfare are determined that wild animals and all creatures shall have a voice, in public affairs and eventually at government level, whereas at the present time they have absolutely no representation.
Outdated toxic views of the world lead to the blood-hunting of foxes, stags and hares, to badger-baiting, dog-fighting, and to an impending massacre of Britain’s most ancient family-oriented species, the British badger, in the so-called ‘badger cull’. There is no suggestion that this is a cull in the proper meaning of the word – for the health of the herd – it is simply a random slaughter of mostly healthy animals. All kinds of attempts are made to justify these tragic aberrations by a government that has lost all touch with the real needs and wishes of the residents of these islands, human and non-human. It is our job to restore decency and sanity to the acts of our species and our nation for the good of those who are at present abused, for the good of the planet and, in the end, for our own welfare too. The world will be a destitute place when all that is left is a landscape overpopulated with humans and devoid of any other life.
Hugh writes not just about the power of compassion – of people who do not want to see wildlife killed – but also about the science, which roundly condemns this behaviour, and ethically why it is simply wrong. Hard decisions have to be taken as we try to balance the immediate perceived needs of humans with the last remnants of our natural world. But the evidence is there for all to see: that no good can come of the killing.
Any hope for a decent future depends on us acting in harmony with the life around us, not in conflict with it.
This is why The Beauty in the Beast is an important book. Gently wise, the facts are delightfully delivered with a good dose of humour. Warwick gives us every possible reason to fall in love all over again with the natural world; it is a love which, in the coming crucial months and years, will inspire us to fight for a compassionate world.’
Brian May, January 2013