In January 2003 my husband, Martin Palmer, came home to the little cottage we lived in in the Peak District, and said that as part of the World Bank funding of some projects with his charity he had to write a book about what it was all about. They were going to publish it later that year.
He showed me the first draft of his history of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), the charity he had set up with HRH Prince Philip eight years before.
It was nice, I said, and obviously it was amazing for the short amount of time he had available. “But if the World Bank is going to publish it, couldn’t we write a better book, an engaging one, full of stories that people would actually enjoy reading?”
And he smiled, as if that was what he was hoping I’d say, and asked me if I’d put a bit of time into improving it. “And maybe rewriting,” he said hopefully.
By the end it was completely different. And apparently it was actually a bestseller for the World Bank. It was terrific for the charity: the work of religions on the environment is quite a complicated idea to explain and yet the stories about it are brilliant, and hopefully inspiring. It was also nice to hear from people working at NGOs or the UN or new colleagues, or just people who somehow discovered it, that they had “stayed up all night” reading it. That was probably a bit of an exaggeration, but anyway, it was great to hear!
This month we’ve made it into a pdf as an informal reissue. Originally it had lots of background information, but we’ve taken that out, so it’s just the five main chapters. And remember, the bedbug story is mine.