1. My dog is not like other dogs. He doesn’t do dog stuff like weeing on lampposts or scratching his fleas, or drinking out of the toilet. No, my dog likes moonlight and music and walking on his tiptoes. You see, my dog doesn’t think he’s a dog. My dog thinks he’s a ballerina!”
My wonderful niece Riley Plum has just started ‘big school’. She already reads pretty well and loves taking books from the library. Tuesday’s gem “Dogs don’t do ballet”, is all about not limiting yourself or someone else, and following your dream – no matter how odd it may seem to others. Sweetly fabulous.
2. “All of my kindness is taken for weakness”
Three great artists, one great song: FourFiveSeconds by McCartney Rhianna and West. I watched the whole thing through before I realised the only instruments were a guitar and two voices. Brilliant. And I love the styling – just goes to show: you’re never to old to reinvent yourself, never to young to work with a legend and never too hip to wear denim
3. “Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” Atticus Finch.
An unpublished novel by Harper Lee is to finally see the light of day, 60 years after the US author put it aside on the advice of her editor. “I thought it a pretty decent effort.” said Lee, “but I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told”. Lee’s editor persuaded her to rework some of the story’s flashback sequences as a novel in their own right – and that book became To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman takes place in the fictional southern town of Maycomb during the mid-1950s. The book sees Scout Finch as an adult, returning from New York to visit her father, the lawyer Atticus Finch. According to the publisher’s announcement: “She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.” I’m looking forward to meeting the grown up Scout.
4.“To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?” Christopher Hitchens
A recent South Korean ad campaign took Hitchens’ words to heart. The billboard depicts an act of child abuse – as it is about to happen. Evocative already – but even more so when the viewer stands on a demarcated spot in front of the sign and their shadow is cast between the child and his violent father. As the passerby stands there, a superhero logo appears on their chest – featuring the number for an emergency report-abuse help line. It’s a pointed reminder that anyone can be a potential intervening force, or as the tagline reads: “Report to become a hero for children.”
5. “You are not supposed to repeat what the Queen says. But the story she told me on that occasion was one that I was also to hear later from its subject – Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – and it is too funny not to repeat.”
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died last month aged 90. His passing was marked by considerable controversy over tributes paid him by various world leaders. Abdullah’s rule was oppressive – although he was considered a moderniser – there are still public beheadings in Saudi, women are banned from driving, political bloggers are publicly flogged and homosexuality is punishable by death. I thought I would share this story taken from former UK ambassador to Saudi Sherard Cowper-Coles’s memoir “Ever the Diplomat” because it shows how civil protest can be made by the most unexpected people: “Five years earlier, in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd’s stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.”