Imagine you woke up tomorrow and heard on the news that a prominent woman MP here in Britain had been kidnapped along with her two daughters. It would be utterly shocking. Now imagine it's a few weeks later and you hear that another female parliamentarian, a member of the House of Lords for example, has narrowly escaped an attack in which her daughter was killed. But this is exactly what's happened in Afghanistan this summer.
An arms dealer suited and booted in formal black tie walked side-by-side with an injured serviceman on crutches as they entered East London's Troxy Hall for a large charity dinner. It was a curious sight; I couldn't help but wonder whether the two exchanged small talk before being seated. "Shrapnel from a cluster bomb? Decent weapon that one!"...
"So what's the most dangerous thing that's ever happened to you?" It's a standard question. The only one that's even more regular, and I dislike even more, is "what's your favourite place?" I guess it's a legitimate question, if you write a book called Bad Lands, travelling along George W Bush's Axis of Evil - the Iran, Iraq, North Korea trio.
We are all angry and upset at the terrible pictures of the atrocity in Syria. Poison gas is a cowardly and inhumane weapon. Its use against civilians is especially despicable. Instinctively we all want to punish the perpetrators and ensure there will be no repeat of this mass slaughter. That's the emotional reaction. The rational one is to measure the consequences of our using force in the Syrian Civil War.
Many in the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces found his level of ambition to be intimidating. For others, his leadership style was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale department. Nevertheless it was this ambition, and his leadership abilities, that brought him to the very top of his profession.
It was enormously rewarding to be able to bring the British Council to work in partnership with the Society to bring the honoured Awardees to London to share their experiences with the UK and receive their awards. The British Council's mission is to build trust and understanding between the UK and the rest of the world through the sharing of knowledge, creativity and art.