Yesterday we were privileged to attend the Lennonono grant for peace awards hosted in Reykjavik’s swanky concert hall Harpa. The peace grants are awarded on the 9th October (John Lennon’s birthday) every other year in recognition of acts of peace, courage and activism and this year’s recipients were: John Perkins; the late Christopher Hitchens and Rachel Corrie; Lady GaGa and Pussy Riot. The guest who received the most attention was of course Lady Gaga, who gave a humble and heartfelt speech, and completely won me over as a new fan. John Perkins, who received his award for exposing international corruption in his best selling book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, reminded the audience in his acceptance speech that it’s not enough just to be aware of what’s happening in the world, we must also take action. Carol Blue Hitchens collected the award on behalf of her husband Christopher Hitchens; I was fortunate enough to get the chance to speak to her and their lovely daughter Antonia after the ceremony who were both interested in the Icelandic patronymic naming system – we had some fun trying out their names using the Icelandic system.
I really lamented the fact that I hadn’t brought any tissues with me when Rachel Corrie’s parents addressed the audience; we were all moved to tears as her mother read out a letter the incredibly courageous Rachel had posted to them before she was tragically killed in 2003.
Being in the presence of the award winners was an unforgettable experience, however it was the Major of Reykjavik Jón Gnarr who appeared to make the biggest impression on the guests, especially Lady Gaga, who were all in agreement that there should be more mayors and politicians like him the world over