Have you ever played that game when you have to name who you would have to dinner, if you could invite anyone you wanted, no limits? These are my top picks – who would yours be?
There is no name more synonymous with imagination, magic and laughter. Walt Disney created animated films for kids in a time when no one had ever done this before, and many laughed at him for even considering it. This man and his beautiful mind created something unlike anything else... he left a legacy known across the globe and held close to the heart of millions. He produced stories, adventures, and characters so magical, I can only imagine what kind of a man he must have been, and what conversation he would bring to the dinner table. I’d definitely ask for a customised sketch while we’re at it.
A FEMALE ANCESTOR
A woman whose face I don’t know, whose name I don’t know, whose life, unlike my other guests, is an utter mystery to me. We are the product of a long line of people who have come before us. The further back you go, the more contributors join the pool of our heritage. There are countless individuals without whom I would not exist. I know the names of some, the professions and movements of others, but when you really get down to it, there is an awful lot we will just never know. I would have a centuries-old female ancestor as a dinner guest, one of many to whom I owe my life. The guest I know the least about, is the one of whom I would ask the most questions. What was her life like? Where did she live? Who did she love? Was hers a happy life? Simple questions with what would likely be simple answers; I would love the chance to hear these otherwise long-lost memories.
Let’s start by asking the question – is there anyone alive that doesn’t love this man? He has a butterfly on his nose. David Attenborough is one of my absolute heroes. His is a voice more recognisable to people worldwide than perhaps any other in existence. My memories of watching this living legend doing things like getting ridiculously excited just standing next to a termite mound, or observing a sloth go to the toilet up-close, date back as far in my memory as I am able to remember. He is like a grandfather I just haven’t met yet. This man is able to get me enthused simply talking about plants. He engages people, he inspired curiosity and makes us care about something we didn;t even know about half an hour ago. He makes me want to travel and see and do even a fraction of what he has done, which is still more than I suspect I will ever get a chance at. He is a personal inspiration, and a true gem. You just know the stories he has would be worthy of ten drawn-out meals around the table. Plus, just hearing that voice in person would be remarkable (imagine that last word in his voice... you’re doing it, aren’t you?)
A girl who became an icon through tragedy, Anne's accidental novel is one of history's most affecting pieces of writing. She wrote with a truth unlike any other ever published, naturally. Having read her diary as a teenage girl myself, I felt an intense connection to her – the stubborn opinions and all-too-familar reflections that are part of being a teenage girl, no matter your circumstance. I would want to talk to her as a fellow teenager, and just enjoy the charming personality glimpsed through her writing. Above all though, I would have her as guest for her benefit more than mine... I want her to know the colossal impact she had on the world.
SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA (A.K.A BUDDHA)
I mean really, who wouldn’t want to meet Buddha? This man lived a life that has inspired legions of people than span both time and continents to live their life with peace in their minds, happiness in their hearts and compassion for people, animals and the planet. Buddhism is the only religion that does not worship a God, but merely a way of life that in my opinion is nothing but good. I would love to meet the man responsible for the start of this meaningful movement and ask him a thing or two about his life. I’m sure his conversation would be very enlightening. Geddit?? (Sorry. I can’t help myself.)
I know, I know, it seems a bit superficial and silly to include the modern day princess in my list of absolutely anyone I could have to dinner but you must understand... surely you must?! Kate is living the dream of every single girl that grew up having fairy tales read to them. She is as close to a living Disney princess as it gets and there are so, SO many questions I would ask. What’s the thing you miss most about pre-royal life? Who’s the weirdest Windsor behind closed doors? What’s it like having to share your children with the world? Do you still get star-struck meeting celebrities knowing you’re pretty much everyone’s idol? Can you give me your hairdresser’s number? And Harry’s while you’re at it? As much as I would like to say I’d only invite historical figures to my dinner, Kate is just too appealing to exclude. Besides, when you think about it, she’s a historical figure in the making really, so I am just doing what people of future generations will do when they play this game. Truly, I’m just thinking of them.
This man was the topic of my first ever University-level essay, and lead me to the realisation of my deep appreciation of American history. Frederick Douglass was a man who escaped slavery in the South and became an influential leader in the abolition movement. He spoke and wrote beautifully, and his autobiography about which I wrote my essay was one of my favourite reads. Such a beautifully spoken man who has lived through such times and inspired such change is someone I definitely want to meet. Not only did he vocally oppose discrimination against African Americans, but he stood for equality of all people, he was a supporter of the women’s suffrage movement and spoke for Native American rights. Perhaps his most famous quote, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong” is proof of why he is a man worth speaking to, given the chance. I personally would thank for serving as a reminder of why I love the study of history with such passion.
QUEEN ELIZABETH I
Predictable perhaps, but this is only a cliché choice because everyone who knows anything about this famous monarch realises what a kick-ass woman she was. Elizabeth made girl power a thing before it was cool. She ruled without a husband, something unheard of during her time – win. She was remarkably tolerant of religious preference be it Protestant or Catholic and did not prosecute either way – win. She was a fierce leader who turned up on the battlefield to rally her men in person – win. Despite being ill-treated, considered an illegitimate heir by many and cast aside by her father Henry VIII, she was the last of his children to ascend to the throne, but went on to rule so successfully she is generally considered one of Britain’s most treasured monarchs, often referred to as the Golden Queen. Win, win, win. Although there’s minor concern this powerhouse female could dominate conversation a little, she is arguably my favourite historical figure, and someone I have long wished I could have the honour of talking to, so there’s no way she’s not getting an invite to my dinner. Oh god... what do I cook for Queen Elizabeth I?!
Lastly, one of my very favourite comedians and someone I wish I could meet and talk to and hug. I grew up watching Robin Williams’ films and cannot possibly choose which of his beloved characters meant the most to me. The loss of him is still so recent, and was such extremely unexpected and shocking news that I still miss him. It is funny how someone you do not know and never met can make you feel their absence so greatly. I would want Robin at my dinner for the jokes he would undoubtedly tell, the impressions he would do, and the moments like that depicted here where he pulls his t-shirt over his head and just looks at you, eyebrows raised, with a face that says “and what?” I know interviews only ever give a glimpse at celebrities’ true selves, but every one I have ever seen of Robin Williams depicts him as a truly warm human being, a good soul, and one I just get the feeling I would be better off for knowing. I’d also thank him for all the belly laughs over the years, of which there were a great many.