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Recently asked if I had any memorable mementos picked up along my travels I hardly knew where to begin, our home is overflowing with bits and pieces carried back from far flung corners of the world. I once travelled with full sized parrot bird cage, as hand luggage, which might not be that remarkable until you consider there was a full sized parrot in the cage. Possibly the most memorable was this shark's jaw, that David found in a market in Africa.
Felix, then aged 5, holding it up puts the staggering size into perspective. Being freshly caught our bags stank of rotting flesh all the way home. That was really memorable.
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Tina Brown invited me to join her fifth anniversary of the Women In The World summit, which acknowledges some of the heroic women leaders around the world, who are confronting unimaginable challenges in their own countries, women who are toppling repressive traditions and who every day risk their lives for social, economic and political change.
These are the role models I want my daughter, Domino, to see.
The summit is a live journalism event, where we witness the world through the eyes of women who live behind the headlines of the news. Stories to grab your heartstrings and strategy that spoke to your brain. Amped up by the energy and electricity of three thousand women in the audience.
For me, the highlight was a conversation between Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde, moderated by Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist at the New York Times. It was extraordinary to hear these two exceptional women talk so candidly about their journeys.
Hillary Clinton told a strikingly simple story, which she had read in an advice column, in a local paper, where a person asked how to decorate their office space. The letter was signed only by initials, so it was unclear if it had been written by a male or female. The columnist responded by saying: if you are a man you should decorate your office with pictures of your family, this will demonstrate that you are a man of value and depth, if however, you are a women, do not put up any pictures of your family, as colleagues will imagine you cannot possibly concentrate on the work at hand, if reminders of home are around.
Christine Lagarde, we know, is a total rock star, but even more so when I spotted her red soled Louboutin’s.
When asked by Thomas if presidencies of any kind where on the cards for either Hillary or Christine, they laughed and high fived each other. The auditorium went mad in excitement.
At dinner afterwards the room was filled with more extraordinary women, Queen Rania of Jordan, Padma Lakshmi, Diane Von Furstenberg….
And some extraordinary men. Maury Hopson, thank you for coming with me.
Women in the World 2014
Every year my parents would take us to France, in the hope we would begin to learn French. My siblings and I simply carried on speaking in English. Frustrated my mother said we would never be allowed another birthday present if we could not say the word in French. The only word I could say was 'canapêche' having spent so much time in the old port watching the fishermen. So that's exactly what I was given on my next birthday. A fishing rod, and little book showing how to tie knots. I had no idea how to fish of course.http://www.indiahicks.com/fishhook-necklace.html
Photo Credit: Sarah Wood
My children have undoubtedly taught me more than I have taught them. They have taught me to shed any selfish expectations I may have had. They have taught me to live in the moment, with an awareness of what that present moment requires. And they have taught me a depth of love and understanding I never imagined possible.
Motherhood is a spiritual journey. It is a constant evolution, and at times an extremely worrying one. As I blindly lead my children through their early lives I am continually questioning myself about what I am teaching them, and my ability to be a parent, I think motherhood is about reaching a point where you can say, “I’m ok with who I am and the job I’m doing.”
But remember life is short, so we should always wear our party pants
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Top Banana asked me to order some bowls recently, something to offer peanuts or chips in when guests come for a drink. "Not a problem" I said, although being somewhat swamped I only got around to this very late one evening. I found the ideal thing, beautiful wooden bamboo bowls.
When the bowls arrived Top Banana unwrapped them "Oh" she said "Austerity measures? Or you just didn't feel the need to offer more than two peanuts?" In her hand was a bamboo bowl, the size of half a ping pong ball.Note to self, always check the measurements. Looks can be deceiving, especially on the internet, late at night.
P.S The bowls in the photograph are not the ones I ordered. These bowls fit loads of peanuts. Check them out here.....
My mother likes to sit quietly in Oxfordshire in her pale pink drawing room reading, if you read her memoir Daughter of Empire
you’ll understand why.
Her childhood was an extraordinary whirlwind of English eccentricity, Hollywood glamour, and political education. Her childhood pets included, at different times, a bear, two wallabies, a mongoose, and a lion. During World War II she was sent to live on Fifth Avenue in New York City with Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1947, she lived in India during partition and developed her own relationships with Gandhi and Nehru. She served as a bridesmaid in Princess Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Phillip and was at her side as lady-in-waiting when the young princess learned her father had died and she was queen.
All this by the age of 21.
Now at 84 my mother allows me to invade her home as though it were still my own. Late the other evening in the library of this home I was on a conference call with two sets of lawyers, on 3 different time zones, when I heard my mother calling.
I carried on with the call.
“Indiaaaa” I heard her call again.
I prayed she would give up. I carried on with the call.
“INDIA” she called again.
I interrupted the lawyers “I’m so sorry, I need to jump off for a moment” I dashed to the bottom of the stairs “Yes Mum?” I said, seeing her at the top.
“I am not shouting to you down there, come up here” she instructed.
I ran up to the top the stairs worrying about the clock ticking on the lawyers’ billable hours.
“Do you need a clothes brush?” she asked.
“A clothes brush” she said “I have a spare one”
Its Mother's Day in England today, and, as dementing as mother's can be I have no idea where I would be without mine. Well I do have some idea, I wouldn't be here at all, but you know what I mean. Happy Mother's Day.
Last week in London, I was invited to speak alongside Kirsty Wark and Rosamund de la Hey, at a Lunch, in aid of The Prince's Trust.
The Prince's Trust helps reach out to young people across the UK, who have faced terrible barriers, preventing them from reaching their full potential: unemployment, time spent in care, criminal records, those who are or have been homeless, and suffer mental or physical health problems. The trust helps these kids develop their confidence, boost their skills, gain sustainable jobs and start their own businesses.
The trust was founded in 1976 by The Prince of Wales. His Royal Highness became dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged young people. The trust delivers on that commitment to this day. Transforming hundreds of thousands of young lives, for the better.
We heard from one of these young people. Catriona. She told us her story. Speaking softly about growing up with mentally ill parents, a junkie brother and being brutally assaulted and raped. The Prince's Trust found Catriona. They helped her feel safe. They helped her heal. I don't think anyone in that room, who heard her story, will forget her shocking, yet poetic words.
An interval followed. We ate lunch. Two hundred women lunching together. A committee member sat beside me "I don't feel very worthy of speaking" I said "Oh don't worry my dear, you are here as the light entertainment".
Knowing I was going to be chatting alongside two extremely accomplished women, Kristy and Rosamund, I googled them both to inspect the line-up. Bloody hell. It was heavy. They’ve achieved a lot. Rosamund’s clearly one smart literary cookie and Kirsty’s Wikipedia page of accomplishments runs on forever. I wasn’t sure I even had a Wikipedia page. I went to look. India Hicks: 600 and something in line to the throne. Expelled from Gordonstoun. Modelled Pucci cat suits.
There of course would have to be some kind of nuclear bomb for me to get near a throne, and for the record I was NOT expelled from Gordontsoun, I was asked to go home for a week and think about things and Emilo Pucci did invite me into a cat suit, but how that ends up on Wikipedia I have no idea.
The Chairman had asked me in advance if I would talk about fostering our son Wesley
, who had been dropped off at the end of our drive by his mother’s boyfriend, the day after her funeral. Four years ago, this month.
I also talked about the balance of life. Balancing entrepreneurial dreams, big goals, romance and most importantly family. I’m not sure I’ve found my balance quite yet but I’m giving it a go.
The Prince's Trust gave Catriona a dream and a goal. She now has the tools and the confidence to find the rest. Remarkable.