The cor­po­rate sto­ry­teller

Jamaica Gleaner - - ARTS&EDUCATION - Amitabh.sharma@hot­mail.com

VERYBODY HAS a book in them,” said Robert Gary Dodds, for­mer ho­tel pro­fes­sional who changed his ca­reer path from writ­ing pol­icy doc­u­ments and do­ing blue­prints for hu­man re­sources to pen­ning a bi­og­ra­phy.

It was a phone call that changed the di­rec­tion of the life of this glo­be­trot­ting hos­pi­tal­i­ty­sec­tor ex­ec­u­tive.

“We were in Dubai when we got a call from our daugh­ter in the United States,” Gary said. “She had se­vere back ache and couldn’t at­tend to her chil­dren.”

First, they thought that she had hurt her back and would be fine af­ter some rest, but the doc­tors di­ag­nosed her with can­cer of the spine, and it had spread to most parts of her body.

“It was dev­as­tat­ing,” Gary said. “Hold­ing my daugh­ter’s hand as she lay in bed, she passed away with us at her bed­side.” She was 34. “Get a life dad, she told me,” he said. “And we de­cided to move back to the United States to be with our chil­dren and watch my grand­chil­dren grow up.”

Back in the US, away from his jet-set­ting life, Gary’s thoughts wan­dered to Ja­maica, where his wife is from, and to Lady Colin Camp­bell (Lady C), who he had met at a din­ner at his home in Lon­don nine years be­fore.

He found a com­mon thread — in his case, to over­come the emo­tional trauma af­ter his Robert Gary Dodds with Su­san Scott at the book sign­ing cer­e­mony on Novem­ber 21

daugh­ter’s death, and Lady C, whose life had been rid­dled with chal­lenges from the day she was born — that of liv­ing life to the fullest re­gard­less of what the laws of na­ture and cir­cum­stances threw at you.

Gary’s creative acu­men was ac­ti­vated to tell the story of the Ja­maica-born writer, so­cialite, and me­dia per­son­al­ity.

“I didn’t have any con­nec­tion with her (Lady C) and met her through a mu­tual friend of ours,

Ni­cola Cross­well-Mair, who was vis­it­ing Lon­don,” he said. “We had in­vited some Ja­maican friends for din­ner, and Lady Colin Camp­bell ac­com­pa­nied Ni­cola. By the end of the evening, I was ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nated with her.

OPEN MIND

He said “I started the book with an open mind.” At the end of the en­deav­ours, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor, he has writ­ten about

an ex­tra­or­di­nary life and an amaz­ing woman. “She can be who she is,” he said. Lady C The Lioness Un­leashed, ac­cord­ing to Gary, is a hu­man and per­sonal story that dips into Lady C’s Ja­maican her­itage and Le­banese and Euro­pean roots.

“The book makes you un­der­stand the feisty per­son­al­ity we some­times see to­day on TV,” he said.

“At times it is shock­ing in its rev­e­la­tions and at times hi­lar­i­ous as it re­calls the things she has said and done!”

Be­hind the feisty ex­te­rior lies some­one with a great sense of hu­mour.

“No one that I met failed to say ‘she makes me laugh’, and I learnt from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence that she is a warm and very gen­uine per­son who, hap­pily, laughs at her­self, too.”

Ac­cord­ing to the au­thor, the book is not a fairy tale but tries to be an up­front, un­abashed ac­count of a woman who is as con­tro­ver­sial a celebrity as they come, and whose life has been filled with glam­orous celebri­ties.

“We get a syn­op­sis of her ear­lier life, her life as an au­thor, her haute couture,” Gary said. “She al­ways speaks frankly and hon­estly, whether you like it or not.”

ANEC­DO­TAL HIGH­LIGHTS

He re­counted some of the anec­do­tal high­lights, re­call­ing an episode of the re­al­ity TV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. She was served roasted kan­ga­roo anus to eat. “She did not blink ... she tucked in with a knife and fork and said later: ‘Well, I’ve been sur­rounded most of my life by a**holes. I thought I may as well eat one!”

The book is a cel­e­bra­tion of Lady C’s life, Gary said. Lady C The Lioness Un­leashed is avail­able on www.ama­zon.com and www.ama­zon.co.uk.

For him, per­son­ally, life’s sim­pler things have be­come es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents to savour. “I am now col­lab­o­rat­ing with my seven-year-old grand­son to write a chil­dren’s book,” he said.

PATRICK PLANTER/ PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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