Tue | Sep 19, 2017

The corporate storyteller

Published:Sunday | November 27, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Robert Gary Dodds with Susan Scott at the book signing ceremony on November 21.
Book Lanuch Jamaica Biography about Lady Colin Campbell on Monday November 21, 20167:00pm at the Knole Gibson Road Stony Hill
Amitabh Sharma
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"Everybody 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 hospitality- sector 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 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.

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com