"Geology and Me"
Hugh Dennis, 'Comedian & geology enthusiast'
To view more images from the lecture, please see our web library, the password is pesgb
Review of the Stoneley Lecture
The annual Stoneley lecture was a great success on Tuesday evening at the Methodist Westminster Hall in London. 630 people packed the large impressive Great Hall, a testament to the obvious appeal of the speaker and the great organizational skills and commitment of the PESGB.
Kitty Hall chaired the evening, from the elevated dais before the mighty pipe organ, handing the lectern to John Austin, PESGB President. John opened the evening with an address to introduce the goals and ambitions of the PESGB to the gathered faithful (and the PESGB members!). John also took the opportunity to highlight some of the unquestionable and sometimes overlooked benefits the oil industry delivers to society, from energy to tax revenue. On the the value of the oil industry to the UK, John concluded that if we do not continue to find and encourage bright new geologists like Bob Stoneley, we will not be able to maintain the excellence of our industry and its contribution to our society.
The speaker took to the pulpit with gusto, taking us through a string of well practiced jokes and anecdotes. It appears this was Hugh’s first “lecture”, a gig not normally required from a comedian/actor. This was clearly no disadvantage however, as he was able to draw on a great number of skills and experiences, from a 1st class degree in Geography to a recent documentary series on the countryside, to deliver a cracking lecture. To summarise the talk in a nutshell, which is unfair given the rich variety of material over almost an hour, the speaker’s premise was that he loved geology (and perhaps more accurately geomorphology) and believed it was overlooked. Like a lot of industries with relatively esoteric fundamentals, it was a pleasure for the diehards in the audience to hear a non-specialist exalt the wonders of geology and its effect on almost everything we are and do. Notwithstanding the ecclesiastical surroundings, Hugh gratefully acknowledged the place of geology in life; from the delivery of resources and energy; through creationism-defying evolution of species; to the natural constructs of our everyday world. One such construct is the nature of islands and the establishment of Britain as an Island Nation. Hugh showed great insight, clearly having done a bit of research, on the islands of UK and other areas and the significance to everyday life.
One such “island” referred to was the Isle of Dogs, poorly named in every sense, in that it is not an island and not a great place for keeping a dog! It was down to this latter fact that Hugh’s family had a cat and growing up, the young family would spend every holiday trekking through country parks and areas of outstanding British beauty, cat in tow. It was via this envious, strenuous childhood that Hugh developed a sense of, and an affection for, geology and geomorphology.
Through the lecture the audience were encouraged to send in a question for the speaker via text. Whilst this gave your correspondents’ youngest the excuse to text throughout the “gig”, it also provided a good mix of questions at the end of the talk. Somebody asked what the cat was called, and another clever wit asked Hugh for his favorite dinosaur, along with an impression, to which the speaker duly obliged, and very funny it was too! Your reporter managed to get a more serious question in there, asking if Hugh thought the oil industry was invisible? The answer was, you could say, par for the course, yes it is invisible and we want it to be, don't we? Food for thought, as the PESGB tries to communicate the arterial importance of E&P to society.
The evening was brought to a close with huge applause and the coveted PESGB fossil, followed by a very lively session of wine and nibbles. A triumphant Stoneley Lecture in the name of one of our most respected godfathers.
Many thanks to Peter Elliott, London Business Development Centre, for this review.
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