I grew up in the analogue age and feel very privileged. It encouraged me to look outside for stimulus and fostered a degree of self-reliance that we’ve lost. But I do think children today are given more reign to be themselves. My generation was not inspired to have spirit in a way you see so much now.
After I left school, I went to work in London. I can’t even remember what I did. I was in an office with 20 other people and everybody smoked. It was horrible and probably spurred me to go and work outdoors.
I wanted to apply to the Royal Marines, but realised that my eyesight wouldn’t match the naval regulations. It was a great disappointment.
I’ve had to trademark the name Ray Mears because we live in a strange world where people appropriate everything. When Facebook came along, I had to constantly send my passport details to them to get rid of bogus accounts. But I think you can still call your son Ray Mears if you really want to.
Making TV is not real when it’s just me and a camera. I prefer touring. A live audience is totally real. I find that very helpful. People are inspiring. If you just do television, you can get too full of your own self-importance.
I’ve been teaching bushcraft for nearly 40 years and I take it very seriously. In spite of technology, it is still possible to get into difficulty. I’m very pleased that people listen and follow my advice.
People tell you that in a car crash, time seems to slow down. In a helicopter crash, it’s the opposite. When the rubber band breaks on a helicopter, my God, you feel it. I looked out of the window and thought: “Crikey. We’re very low.” Just as I thought, “We’re going to crash,” the alarms went off, so I adopted the brace position. We impacted under my window, the helicopter bounced up and came down on the tail rotor, which broke off and spiralled across the top. Inside, it felt like being on the spin cycle in a tumble drier.
I really don’t know Bear Grylls. I don’t watch anyone who makes programmes in the same vein as me.
You won’t see me on I’m a Celebrity. I’ve done all those things for real. Why would I do them in an artificial sense?
The Scouts motto, “Be prepared”, is really true. Don’t hope for the best. Just plan for the worst. And when things go wrong, try to have a sense of humour.
Ray Mears: We Are Nature: How to Reconnect to the Outdoors is out now, published by Penguin at £20
Original posted at www.theguardian.com