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  The Chatter Box : Messages from Michael
Presidential News by Michael Palin on 22 May 2009 2:02pm
Eagle-eyed Palin's Travellers, or those desperate for any kind of cheap sensation, may have read or heard reports that Michael Palin (that's the real one, not the one who Twitters) has been romantically linked with the Royal Geographical Society. Well, for once, what you've read is true. I've been asked to be President of the RGS for the next three years, starting at the beginning of June. The only other time I've been President of anything was when they invented the position for me at the Campaign For Better Transport. Of which I am still President and very proud of it too.

Why did I agree to become President of such an august and celebrated body as the Royal Geographical Society ? Well, basically (and I'm quoting Monty Python here for we once invented a spokesman for the British "Well Basically" Society) because I have always been a great enthusiast for geography, as those of you who visit the site know. As well as doing everything to preserve the excellence of the RGS, I hope that I can transmit some of my enthusiasm to those who might be the geographers of the future.

This site has always encouraged travel, contact and better understanding between the people of the world. The Royal Geographical Society represents and embodies nearly 180 years of wisdom and experience of those whose lives have been dedicated to understanding our world better.
I see the Presidency as a way of continuing the work I've been doing these past twenty years of travels. I shall treasure the opportunities to learn more myself and I'll let you know how it's all going. Please don't be put off by the "augustness" of the Society's title. It survives by being open to the curious and welcoming to everyone. Check out the RGS website (www.rgs.org) and come and see us.

Oh and by the way, it doesn't mean I'm hanging up my boots - look out for my Kolkata (Calcutta) article in Conde Nast Traveller (October edition, I'm told). Photos by Basil Pao. And I shall be at the Palestine Literary Festival for the next few days, then off to a travel writing festival at St Malo in France to talk about Around The World In Eighty Days in a new French translation. Zut ! Alors ! It's true I shan't be planning any long TV journeys for a while, but that's more to do with Archie than the RGS ! And another grand-child due in the summer. Watch this space !

I've so much to learn about my new role that I'm not in any position to deliver heavyweight statements of intent, but I'll be putting up a press release on the site very soon. Meanwhile, keep travelling, and if you're in Ramallah next Tuesday, come and say hello.

Michael P, May 22, 2009.

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