More than a biologist?
After finishing 'Darwins dating show' I came to the conclusion that the legacy of my work as a biologist was sufficiently preserved. I did like the projects that were done together with Joop Jukema, but I gradually started to dislike all the hassie around publishing a scientific paper. Quite easily one of our papers was published by a leading ornithological journal, but there was so much discussion on a manuscript we sent to a lower ranked journal, that I decided to withdraw. Also, I got more troubles with the trend to partition the results of a research project in as many publications as possible. I feel that at least part of the coherence becomes lost by this procedure.
A request to give a lecture on my great-grandfather, Hendrik Willem Heuvel (who was rather famous in an eastern region of The Netherlands), offered me a pleasant diversion. It triggered me also to explore the short life of my grandfather, Heuvels eldest son, Johan. I knew almost nothing about him, and the people that had known Johan, were all dead as far as I knew. I therefore visited regional archives, tried to put myself in his role (which appeared to be fairly easy to me) and wrote the book 'Moeders vader' (Mother's father, 2017). Herewith, biology lost its dominant position in my life, but I continued to act as an investigator.
Then I addressed an old plan to write a novel. My inspiration was drawn from the world of biologists, actually from a research topic I was involved with as a student. I wanted to draw the attention to the dark sides of the academic community. Usually, its members avoid to talk about that. Along these lines 'Geleerd bedrog' (Fraud in science, 2019) was written. Also here, I put myself in the role of one of the protagonists, a high school teacher who tries to unmask the cheaters.
In the mean time, Mayke, my daughter in law, had read my book 'Moeders vader'. She enjoyed it, and asked me to write a book about a monumental farm on a monumental terp, that would become their house. They had a lot of plans for making a public space of it. Again, I explored the history of the building and the area, and wrote 'De Enne Jans Heerd op Maarhuizen' (2019).
We got a pandemic, a hesitant government that was too late to take action. Nitrogen polution (mainly by agriculture) caused a crisis, there was a climate crisis, a biodiversity crisis, the government was sent away, but continued to rule the country for months, for almost a year, but continued to be extremely hesitant. These all stimulated me to tackle my next project: why governments and parliaments are almost incapable to develop (and execute) long term policies. That story is almost finished. May be, it will be published as a book in 2022.