Great session with Former 🇨🇦 Prime Minister Stephen Harper @UAE_EDA on politics in age of disruption. Reminder that diplomacy is often - like ice hockey - a contact sport. I watched PM Harper in action at G8 and G20 summits. Always relished the debate. And reminder that diplomacy has to work harder to show real impact on people’s lives. His new book tackles this head on.
Powerful photo of my friend Ed Llewellyn at Thiepval yesterday. As UK Ambassador in Paris he was opening a new peace memorial, as we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. Our relative, Lieutenant Geoffrey Cather, fell very close to here, on 2 July 1916. We don’t know exactly where, as his death came under such heavy machine fire. He had gone out into No Man’s Land, again and again over nine hours, in view of the enemy, to bring back men injured on that brutal first day of The Somme. After his death he was honoured with the Victoria Cross, the highest award the British Army gives for gallantry. More importantly, the men he rescued went on to become husbands, fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers. There are so many stories like this. My eldest will tell his friends and teachers this one on Sunday. And another generation will take on the responsibility to ensure they are not forgotten.
Many of us lost a great leader and mentor today. Being a public servant in the Heywood Era was like being a sprinter in the Bolt era. Jeremy Heywood had the forensic intelligence that could find in seconds the flaw or opportunity in a paper that everyone else had missed. And could strike Voldemort terror into you if you were incompetent or feeble. The five most terrifying words In the English language were Jeremy saying “you need to grip this”. But it wasn’t just the fierce intellect. It was the bulletproof stamina and utter determination to Get Stuff Done. His belligerence for public service. He had the Labrador grin that could convince you to work all weekend. Jeremy was the first to develop No10donitis, a wrist injury from overuse of the Blackberry. And it was also heart. Landing at Heathrow after another grueling trip with the PM, I got an email saying a civil service admin error meant I had to repay 4000 UKP. But I was broke. And it was four days before Christmas. Jeremy got involved immediately and personally to help me stagger the repayments. I watched him close up with three PMs, and I haven’t got a clue how he voted. Yet the last four governments would have been unimaginable without him. And government is now unimaginable without him. Much comment today will say Jeremy was the finest public servant of his generation. He was actually the finest in living memory. Four PMs found that peerless drive, stamina, creativity and sense of purpose indispensable. People will say he was a Whitehall Warrior. I remember him as a warrior.
Halloween is just a normal day for us. Like any other, it starts with packing the school lunchboxes. Bit of a headache but that should pass.
I’ve written in today’s National in how the universities of the future will need to be more accessible, human, digital and creative. https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/the-university-of-the-future-will-be-inclusive-innovative-and-creative-1.785061
After three punishing days, one crash, desert, islands, much chamois cream and serious calories of refreshment, the 2018 cycle tour ends on the F1 track in Abu Dhabi. Old friends, great times, new aches and pains. Never again, until next year.
First leg of 2018 Tour de Saadiyat. You wouldn’t guess it but I’ve known these athletes 25 years since meeting at Oxford. Doing 300k over three days. Records may tumble. Came off going quite fast down Khalifa Bridge - shorts provided limited protection. Will spare Instagram the road burn photo.
All five episodes of my Better Angels series on the future of learning are now available here: https://theirworld.org/better-angels I’m so grateful to the brilliant guests, including Prime Ministers, activists, leaders, film stars, pioneers, thinkers, glass ceiling breakers and so many people who have inspired me. And to my social media godmother Sarah Brown for lending me this platform to get more focus on the urgent debate on what we need to learn to thrive. Please listen to the case for a Renaissance in learning. We are all educators, and we are all learners. Getting this right in the Digital Century is an existential challenge for humanity. Please enjoy and share. Let’s kindle the flame.
Chaired session today at Creative Industries Summit, thinking about future of creative workforce. Brilliant contributions from some inspirational teachers, entrepreneurs and academics about what next generation need to thrive. Short answer is more curiosity, kindness and courage than our generation. And plenty of license to be creative, think critically, and fail. As a failed boxer, frontman and door to door salesman, can only agree.
Great to be back in FCO yesterday to debate future of diplomacy. The 2016 review I led had recommended a less ‘maps and chaps’ approach. So the talk was in the Map Room ...
A splash of Masai red at Ely Cathedral on Sunday. An incredibly evocative sound echoing around a magnificent space, taking me back twenty years to my first posting.
Great 48 hours in New York. Included dawn run in Central Park, joining Federica Mogherini and Brad Smith for Global Tech Panel, the brilliant turnout at Global Business Coalition for Education breakfast, hosting dinner for UN Tech Panel and an interview at new UN social media hub. Plus torrential downpours, humidity, a lot of coffee catch ups and NY gridlock. And lobster rolls with Queen of NY, Jeanette Seever. Also very excited to launch new podcast on future of learning: https://theirworld.org/voices/better-angels-podcast-special-with-tom-fletcher-digital-age