A funny thing happened to me while I wrote this post. I got me some happy. You see this year so far has me in a bit of a funk and so I thought by writing something I might get my mojo back but after hours of trying to find my muse it just proved impossible in my current state of mind. So I settled on something completely trivial and guess what happened! In writing this there has been the desired lifting of spirit. Now that I’m feeling happier, today’s post –
If you could invite anyone to dinner who would you invite? Would you choose an entertainer, an intellectual or someone you could stare at dreamily across the table? I have been asked this many times and I am pretty consistent in my response, after all dream guests are dream guests for a reason. Unfortunately all my guests have transitioned so there will be no sampling of my roast chicken with creamy butternut squash and chilli in this lifetime but in a parallel universe…
♀ At the best of times I do not preach at the altar of Oprah but where we do joyfully coexist is in our love for Maya Angelou. An angel walked on earth and her name was Maya Angelou, this is what I believe to be true. I so revere her that in all probability no one would actually get fed at this dinner because I would want to stay engulfed in her embrace the whole evening. Ms Maya came into my life when as a teen I read ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ which is an autobiographical account of the first 17 years of her life. In the years since I have voraciously read much of her work. This woman lived.
Having survived sexual abuse as a child, she would eventually become an author, poet and activist as well as a mother after having worked as a prostitute, fry cook, dancer, performer and journalist. Her participation in the civil rights movement saw her work with both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and what these men never got to see – she lived to see an African American be President in the country of her birth AND not only did she live the most extraordinary life, she was blessed with the gift of storytelling… the voice, the cadence, the words, the grace when she spoke it was with her heart and her soul AND as if all this didn’t already qualify her as the perfect dinner guest, she is one classy broad, one you could easily see yourself having a glass of whisky with. I describe myself as a lover of words, a history buff and an activist and as such Ms Maya has been an invaluable teacher to me. Oh to hear her velvety voice in person…
♀ Then there is Queen Elizabeth I my favourite historical figure. During her reign Elizabeth was able to establish stability and economic growth in England, fashion her kingdom into a major world power, nurture the idea of nationalism and champion the arts (this was the time of Shakespeare and Marlowe). She achieved all this being a woman at a time when women were seen as weak creatures of vanity lacking in intelligence. Today the idea of feminism and equality is topic du jour but can you imagine being the Queen of England in the 16th – 17th century successfully exercising your power in a man’s world AND of course I would have to ask if was she really the Virgin Queen? Why she was if she was? If I had a court full of men at my disposal there is no way I would stay chaste. It would be such a terrible waste no?
♂ Bullish arrogant toff – that’s how Christopher Hitchens would come across to those who first meet him and quite possibly to those who knew him too AND he would not give a monkey’s. Christopher Hitchens was not interested in playing nice and I loved him for it. I came to know him through his editorials in Vanity Fair, a magazine I have read since I was 15 years old. He taught me an invaluable lesson while I was still in my teens, he made me realise when we ingest information all we really do is take on an opinion.
I want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the US, I base this on the information I have gathered via various channels but for every pro Hillary sound bite out there, there is an equally opposing offing and by no means do I think she is flawless I just like what I see. Christopher Hitchens was not a fan of the Clintons, of Hillary he thought her hawkish and fake and he questioned her experience, connections and the origins of her foreign donations. Here we disagreed but of Mother Theresa he offered a criticism which I have also come to believe; of her saintly image he said she was an ally of the status quo, that she wasn’t interested in eradicating poverty and that ‘her cult of death and suffering’ depended for its effect on the most vulnerable and helpless like abandoned babies or the dying who supply the occasion for charity – she needed these people to exist so she could exist as Mother Theresa.
He was an atheist, socialist, Marxist and his work helped me form a more secular view. He didn’t just spout criticisms, when he wrote it was after thorough investigation; he actually went to Calcutta and spent time with Mother Theresa and he even underwent waterboarding to prove it was indeed a form of torture. As a dinner guest no doubt he would come across as a bullish arrogant toff but one thing I know for sure is this contrarians’ contrarian would never let the conversation lag.
♀ When I was about thirteen I saw a picture of this woman; her braided hair was piled on her head atop of which sat a crown of flowers, her piercings eyes pitch black, her lips full wearing bright red lipstick – what distinguished her from the females in my life was that she also had a distinct unibrow and a faint moustache – this image fascinated me. It was so outside my norm, it made me feel oddly haunted and within me a fire had been lit, from that moment on my burgeoning inquisitive nature knew no bounds, anything that was considered taboo or wrong no longer was. It was also the moment I fell for Frida Kahlo. Frida and her art fascinate me. I can look a painting of hers for hours trying to decipher the meaning and because her work is autobiographical it is as if by interpreting her work you are by extension interpreting her life. A life marred with continual physical and emotional pain, her art deals with the idea of beauty, sex, abortion, miscarriage, gender inequality… all issues that get people hot under the collar today, imagine what it must have been like to be a crippled woman in the first half of the 20th century in Mexico. I certainly would love to have that conversation.
♂ Rather predictably David Bowie is my last guest. To have been in his presence… just to have had one real conversation… he is was such a man.
I wonder what my selection says about me – each of my guests is a strong intelligent charismatic individual who lived their life by their own rules – do I want to be like them or surrounded by them or both. Hmmm something for me to ponder… as for you dear reader I would love to hear about your dream dinner guests over in comments.
Also in the news: Well done to Super Bowl 2016 champions the Denver Broncos and to Coldplay for a fab halftime performance – any theme that involves love I’m in – the first six minutes were mint, shame the other two had to be included though, there can never be enough of Chris Martin’s high voltage energy in my book #SB50 #WillManningRetire #BelieveinLove ♥ I had high hopes for the Syria peace talks that were meant to take place this month in Geneva and am sad that they ended so abruptly with no actual resumption date. The time wasted in bureaucracy just increases the death toll. And it is important to note not at all refugees are Syrian, many come from Africa and Asia so any resolution has to tackle the issue on a broader scale #RefugeeCrisis #GlobalCitizen ♥ Market turmoil continues, are we on the brink of another global recession? It’s a bit scary #DominoDancing ♥ and lastly a bit of a rant… so the most unique mind blowing artist of this generation dies and what does the music industry’s most prestigious award show do – roll out Rent-A-GaGa. Lady Gaga for a David Bowie tribute – are you fucking kidding me? Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I feel so vehement about this decision I initiated albeit unknowingly a mini twitter war with her ‘monsters’ as her folk like to be called. The point is not whether she has any talent but that David Bowie was everything Gaga isn’t – he was a unicorn she is a wannabe. The Grammys have missed an opportunity here, it should have been his peers, those he loved and admired. Big Mistake. Since boycotting the Oscars has become a thing this year. I say boycott the Grammys #GagaAPoorMansBowie #GrammysSoWrong