Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Woman a Week: Miranda Kerr

Miranda Kerr is an Australian model married to English actor Orlando Bloom. She has once stated in an interview that she’s English, French and of Scottish descent.

During her childhood in Australia she raced motorbikes and rode horses on her grandmother’s farm. At the age of eighteen she entered and won the 1997 annual Dolly magazine / Impulse Models competition.

In early 2006 she appeared in the finale episode of the TV show Project Runway, modelling clothes for contestant Daniel Vosovic’s final collection.

She debuted with the US market when she signed a lucrative cosmetics contract with Maybelline New York.

Following her success with Maybelline, Kerr became the first Australian model to be offered a contract with Victoria’s Secret in 2007 – replacing Gisele Bündchen.

Upon her acceptance, she became the first ever Australian Victoria’s Secret Angel, joining the famous stable of international models already signed to the lingerie giant.

She practises Buddhism, and believes ‘we have a responsibility to bring peace and harmony to our lives and the world’. She maintains her physique through daily yoga, light jogging and a diet of steamed vegetables, fresh fruit and fish.

She is without doubt an attractive young lady, who believes that she was well grounded in her Australian countryside where there wasn’t any pretentiousness and no one really cared what you were wearing. ‘You could just be you,’ she says.

In fact, true to her word – as shown in her recent photo shoot in Miami Beach, Florida – she giggled as she bared her breasts while shooting an ad for her new make-up range, Kora Organic.

Given her background and her earthiness, I wonder whether she was trying to prove that, not unlike her products, her boobs are also organic. No silicone there, to boost her desirable assets – as Mother nature took good care of that.

What a cracker of a lady she’ll prove to be. Hence, she is my woman of the week.

The Cannabis Dilemma

It seems that pot growing is sending green principles up in smoke.

The practice, legalised in Washington State by a vote in last year’s presidential election, is booming despite the fact that the state is fiercely opposed to carbon emitters, pioneering tough standards on power stations and the like.

But then principles are not adhered to when it comes to cannabis growing, which is highly polluting. One kilo of marijuana, a study concluded last year, releases as much carbon dioxide while growing as driving seven times across the United States. This is because it is mainly cultivated indoors – with bright lights, air-conditioning, fans, dehumidifiers and even machines specially generating the gas to produce more potent puffs.

And to make the situation worse as far as pollution is concerned, the city of Seattle, where Amanda Knox lives, and despite aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2050, is producing new zoning regulations to permit plenty of indoor reefer ranching.

Growing it outside is so much greener but authorities would naturally like to avoid making a show of it.

Since I’m not a politician I dare confess that at one time in my teens I got fond of the habit of smoking cannabis through a hubbly bubbly, which I brought with me from Palestine at the age of eighteen solely as an ornament to remind me occasionally of my birth place. But then the ornament had its heavenly possibilities, as I soon discovered.

However, I must in all honesty admit it was an adventure that I never regretted. Although I am anti-drugs, a puff or two at the time was a pleasure not to be missed. Its illegality makes it more popular and is not a deterrent.

On the contrary, human nature is such that the forbidden fruit, as they say, has an irresistible appeal and will always defy authority or for that matter convention.

This streak of rebellion is in our genes and there is nothing we can do about it.

So take it easy, my friends, be more tolerant and cheerful and let people find their own physical yearnings from time to time. The world will then be a happier place to inhabit.

The Liberation of Young Women as Exemplified by Cara Delevingne and her Coterie of Friends

Sapphic shenanigans and smooching lovelies were a feature in this year’s Cannes Film Festival – and to complete the picture, thanks to a well-organised cheeky invasion of glamorous models with film ambitions in their sights.

The French movie, Blue is the Warmest Colour – the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or Award – is a steamy three-hour coming-of-age tale, showing a graphic, no-holds-barred, twelve-minute sex scene between two women – played by Lea Seydoux, and Adele Exarchopoulos.

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, the film may face problems with British censors because of its erotic nature.

Many critics, I understand, were glued to their seats throughout the long film and were reported to have been deeply moved by the whole experience, referring to it as the Gallic equivalent of Brokeback Mountain – which, incidentally, I found awfully embarrassing when I saw it; hence, I will certainly not go to see the Liberace film for the same reason.

Men making love to other men is not usually a pleasant sight to behold, whereas controversially two women in congress appears to be more natural and often carries with it a feminine tenderness, erotically overwhelming but not in the least offensive.

For instance, seeing the beautiful model Cara Delevingne locking lips with actress Sienna Miller – or pop star Rita Ora – is not only sensually gratifying to themselves, but to their audience as well.

The gesture represents a closer proximity and a more meaningful friendship that goes some way in defining today’s open relationships. The young generation of women are so liberated that they wear their sexuality on their sleeves, and consider it their badge of honour.

Nothing to them in this realm is unacceptable, as long as mutuality is coherently intertwined.

There is no question of morality here, for their bodies and attire speak volumes of their aspirations, their desire to love and be loved, with very few boundaries to contend with.

Their lifestyle is fast and furious, and their libido unquenchable. They live for today, and make the most of their mortality.

Their freedom is so pronounced that they need not take any notice of disparaging mutterings from those who envy or condemn their sexual orientations.

How far will their freedom take them, is hard to predict. Evolution in all things is galloping at such pace that no one can begin to determine where and when its voyage will reach its zenith.

That’s why in some strange way the unknown, or the unpredictable, can be as exciting as it is frightening. With infinity indefinable, even to science, so is our quest to peer into the future. The challenge remains unfulfilled, so long as we are unable to unlock the mysteries of eternity.

My Weekend Review

The crime perpetrated in Woolwich is beyond the comprehension of any decent human being, whether Christian, Muslim or Buddhist.

The brutality of slaying an innocent British soldier in the streets of London because of his uniform has shocked the entire nation, and robbed his poor parents of a loving son in the prime of his youth.

Those who seek revenge with such fanaticism should have no role in our society. There can be no justification for this horrible and senseless crime, which will cause divisions within the very structure of a civilised and caring nation that has for the last four decades bent backwards to stem racism and prejudice from our midst, by enacting stringent laws of equality and fairness – and that have sometimes exceeded the realms of reason by restricting our right to speak freely without the fear of being condemned.

Nevertheless, it is always preferable to err on the side of righteousness than leave a modicum of doubt to those who are determined to abuse the system.

However, all said and done,  we must learn to avoid conflicts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan and leave their own people to decide the destiny of their nations. Our interventions more often than not have made matters worse and caused unnecessary tragedies and loss of life – for all parties concerned, including our own.

Diplomacy and goodwill should be our most effective weapons, for the days of subjugation by violent means are long gone and will never settle a dispute permanently.

Let us therefore be the wiser, learn from the lessons of history and endorse the fact that human life is sacred and worth great sacrifice above and beyond anything else.

It is only then that our world will become a more tranquil place to live in.

The Chutzpah of Tamara Ecclestone

I could not resist buying a copy of this month’s Playboy magazine, not to read anything remotely bordering on one of my various subjects of interest, but merely to see a nude photo shoot of diamond heiress Tamara Ecclestone.

Why Tamara, you may ask.

Is it because she’s so rich and gorgeous in equal measure, and the last person I would have thought would expose her deliciously concealed feminine assets for want of money, which I am sure is not the case?

Her sumptuously-formed body – beautifully crafted, elegantly sensual with a delicate whiff of animal desire to tempt the most saintly and puritanical among us, be it man or woman – yet a feast for the eyes and a painter’s dream that will enchant the unenchantable; her chutzpah will thus ensure that in the annals of sexual concupiscence she remains supremely unforgettable.

Was her aim, I wonder, to be immortalised by Playboy – a magazine that seeks naked beauties – while her youthful body is in good shape, and to break the conventional etiquette of well-brought-up young girls who have the benefit of every conceivable social training? Or is it possibly the impulse to challenge the Establishment by demonstrating that rich girls, although shamefully spoilt, can nevertheless make ripples with a style of their own and withstand the backlash that may follow their disrobing?

Or has she another motive in mind?

She must know a deshabillé woman, with her background and good looks, is a magnet of desire that transcends everything else. To be possessed even momentarily by hungry eyes can in some women be an aphrodisiac of self-titillation that is pleasurable and a boost to their well-guarded self-esteem.

Whatever prompted her to bare all is to me and many others a source of mystery that I would love dearly to unravel. Perhaps an opportunity will present itself when an encounter with Tamara will resolve the issue.

In the meantime, I applaud her elan, and her seemingly indomitable free spirit.

An Addiction

As you may have noticed, if you are a regular reader of my blog, I am keenly interested in research findings and studies that can lead to discoveries – be they medical, scientific or psychological.

Knowledge, to me, is the aphrodisiac of today. The lack of it is a famine to the mind, a retrograde of the kind that hampers progress, and clouds our intellectual ability to discern, analyse and move forward in our quest to unveil the mysteries that surround us.

The more advanced we become in the multiplicity of spheres that intrigue our ever-searching minds, the more we become aware of how minute the overall comprehension of what we see and feel turns out to be.

The multitude of what we grasp is a small atom of infinity. We sway in the great open space and wonder at the gigantic creation which obliterates our capacity to understand and think clearly and behave rationally, for the universe has no strict rules, nor is it subject to uniformity or predictability in human terms.

My addiction to learn and discover more keeps me alive and alert. It is a drug that I cannot do without, nor wish to cleanse myself from. If that ever happens the bells would toll for my eviction to yonder lands.

James Pembroke

Another launch party, to follow that of the previous night – but this time to celebrate the publication of James Pembroke’s book, Growing Up in Restaurants.

The event took place at Le Café Anglais, London. Here is the text of my short speech to mark the occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen, for me, this launch party has a special significance.

As an initial backer of The Oldie magazine, I remember a young James Pembroke being hired by Richard Ingrams to take charge of the marketing of the new magazine, which was in many ways rather controversial due to its title.

The majority of people would rather not be seen with a copy of a magazine that might reflect the age of the person clutching it.

Undeterred, James took the job to heart and despite the mounting odds against the shaky success of the venture, he excelled in his task where others would have failed.

He had the tenacity and the vision to recognise its potential and the rest of the story is now history.

So you can imagine my delight two decades later when he walked into my office with a manuscript and asked me whether I could be his publisher.

The subject itself intrigued me, and knowing James the way I do I was confident that anything he tries his hand at would be destined for great rewards.

And I was not disappointed.

Growing Up in Restaurants is a very promotable title. It has all the ingredients of a runaway success, the kind of idiosyncratic charm that makes you envy the sort of childhood he had and revel in its many varied escapades.

James believes our attitudes to eating in public reveal more about the development and nature of our society, than how and what we consume in the privacy of our homes. Restaurants, he says, mirror our history and our economic ups and downs: the French aristocracy never ate in public and lost their heads; ours did, and kept theirs.

I am sure James will keep his, for he is endowed with a keen sense of combining what life can best offer with a sharp eye for the possible that hard work can only provide.

He is a man of our age, full of zest, enthusiasm, and a rare quality of defining the indefinable – hence, his secret of success.

His book is as appetising to read as a sumptuous meal in a fine restaurant. Buy as many copies as you can afford, and you will sample a delicacy hard to beat. Please give him the support he deserves.

Cancer, Love and the Politics of Hope

This is the text of my short address at last night’s launch party for Dr Philip Salem’s Cancer, Love and the Politics of Hope, which took place at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge.

Ladies and gentlemen, as people in general are not appreciative of long speeches, I have disciplined myself to be brief, so as to ensure your full attention.

We are here to celebrate the launch of Cancer, Love and the Politics of Hope, a book about the life and vision of Dr Philip Salem, who does not need an introduction from me, for his fame as a world-acknowledged oncologist, researcher and professor of cancer medicine precedes him.

A prominent writer and intellectual, this is the first time that a selection of his speeches, interviews and editorials – spanning almost twenty years – have been published together in English. Within its pages, he puts forward a compelling argument for the sovereignty of Lebanon, his country of birth, and calls for an overhaul of the education system – not only in the Lebanon but in the Arab world as a whole.

He reflects on the Lebanese Civil War, offering a penetrating insight and analysis of the subsequent political situation in the region. Dr Salem is a well-known pioneer not only in the field of medicine, but as a patriot whose constant care and surveillance of the affairs of his country of origin stands him in unique stead.

As a clinician and a committed humanitarian, Dr Salem offers the reader his advice and intuition on healthcare, medicine, cancer, life and death. As an Arab-American and a Lebanese citizen who had no choice but to leave his homeland, he describes his own grief in exile when he first arrived in America. It is an emotion that the world’s diasporas everywhere will identify with and gain solace from.

It is especially relevant today in a world fraught with peril and at times seemingly incomprehensible conflict, that individual odysseys of joy, hope and love achieved against a background of horror and incalculable odds are allowed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes; this book is such a voyage. How Philip Salem achieved success in an alien land is a lesson for us all. It is, however, a trait inborn in every Lebanese to seek his destiny beyond the shores of Lebanon and conquer new territories in support of their homeland. They are remarkable people, strewn in every corner of the world seeking opportunities through hard work and an eye for that which others deem unattainable. They also spread their culture and remain true to their ideals and their place of birth. There is much we can learn from them.

Dr Salem is one of those who stands supreme and deserves our esteem. The best way to honour him on this auspicious occasion is for everyone assembled here to purchase more than one copy of his book, so that his vast experience and wisdom imparted in this excellent volume will travel far and wide.

My last important task is to thank our real host, Mr George Zakhem, without whom this launch would not have been possible. He is to be commended for his generosity and great support whenever the opportunity arises. We need more men like him to brighten and inspire our lives, to achieve greater objectives.

My Weekend Review

The Tories should reassess their priorities.

Why is the Tory party tearing itself apart? It seems to be divided on a number of important issues, many of which are of its own stupid making.

And, to compound their woes, people close to David Cameron are provoking the rest of the party by labelling grassroots Conservative activists ‘mad, swivel-eyed loons’, who are forcing Tory MPs to take a hardline position against gay marriage and the EU.

Grassroots campaigners are utterly shocked and dismayed by these remarks, and have clearly responded by claiming that such language shows utter disrespect for the party’s membership and confirms their suspicion that David Cameron is out of touch with his own party and the electorate.

Let’s start with gay marriage. Public opinion against the legislation is gaining momentum. Over a hundred Tory MPs are rebelling, and will certainly give the coalition government a hard time before it becomes law – and there are indications that its passage through the House of Lords is doubtful, and is bound to cause a constitutional clash between the two houses after a call for peers to defy the elected chamber because of the way the issue has been handled.

Lord Dear, an independent peer and former West Midlands chief constable, has written to hundreds of members of the Lords arguing that they would be justified in blocking the bill because it had been rushed through in a ‘most undemocratic and shameful way’.

It follows remarks by Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, who said that there was a ‘real sense of anger’ among grassroots Tories about the proposals, which would ‘redefine’ marriage for ‘millions and millions’ of people.

A storm is certainly brewing when the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, is expected to mount a wide-ranging attack this week on the coalition’s family policies, accusing David Cameron of undermining marriage in a way that ‘no intelligent government’ would do.

David Cameron’s stance on the issue of gay marriage is incomprehensible to many people. Why commit hara kiri for a legislation that will play havoc with Christian family values for generations to come. His beliefs must have evaporated since attaining power and he is now courting controversy likely to bring an end to his political ambitions.

He must therefore stop listening to these so-called reformers, whose influence has landed him in no end of trouble. Gay marriage will not win him the next general election. Whoever told him otherwise should be banished from his inner circle and sent somewhere where he could do the least harm.

As for Europe, we must avoid being in a position of total isolation. We must take the middle course and renegotiate some of the issues that give us grave concern.

But getting out of Europe will in my humble view do us more harm than good. We can ill afford as an island to bat on our own in a world where competitiveness is incredibly fierce.

I think David Cameron is aware of the intricacies of the situation, and must resist the right-wingers in his party who clamour for total independence from Europe.

In the meantime, this can wait. Our biggest challenge is the economy and that’s where our ultimate power lies.

We have the will and the expertise to triumph where others have failed. Let’s be bullish and forge ahead without being diverted from our task by ideological nonsense brought about by the misguided concept of political correctness.

Thought for the Day

Why do we struggle to accumulate money?

And why is it that the more we accumulate the more we want?

I have thought about it for many years, and have not yet found a definite answer.

The positive side of money is that it enables people to live comfortably, educate their children properly and give them the best chance in life, help charities if they are so inclined, and get the best available medical attention – especially when they need it in old age.

It also widens their knowledge by being able to travel and see how the rest of the world lives.

The negative side is that money becomes an obsession with most people, changes their character, often in a detrimental sense – and they become more selfish and start believing that they are not as rich as they would like to be.

That’s a major problem because, to them, infinity in money terms is unwittingly their objective.

The one who has a billion-pound fortune compares himself to one with several billion pounds, and it goes on forever. There is no limit to greed as far as money is concerned. And, believe it or not, a lot of the mega rich are under the illusion that they can take it with them when death knocks at their door.

Perhaps someone who is more learned than the rest of us – and by supposition wiser – will unlock this mystery that baffles me.

To him I throw down the gauntlet, not only for my benefit but also for the benefit of others, who find themselves as confused and perturbed as I am.