Do you believe in serendipity? I do. Wikipedia defines 'serendipity' meaning a 'happy accident' or 'pleasant surprise'. I believe it's much more than that - it's being open to chance, luck, happenstance and having gratitude. Serendipity smiles upon people who know what they like, love and want. Life follows you. Choose what you love and remain relaxed but sticky enough to attract and magnetise the good stuff to yourself. I'd like to give you an example of this in my own life. At the time I wasn't consciously aware of the fortuitous circumstances I'd created but by loving something and showing gratitude I had attracted it to me. In 1984 I was flying out to Sydney, Australia to produce some Quantas commercials with Michael Parkinson and Barry Humphries (Dame Edna). The flight at that time was @26 hours (with stop offs) so we knew we were in for the long haul. One of the creatives I was travelling with handed me a book called 'White Mischief' by James Fox and said 'I think you'll enjoy this'. I could not put the book down. I was riveted start to finish. Isn't it great when you get a book you love - well done James Fox! Anyway the book is based upon a true story about the Happy Valley set in 1940's Kenya and the murder of the philandering Earl of Errol. Whilst I was reading the book I began to realise I would go there, not just to Kenya but to the Djinn Palace on Lake Naivasha. In fact I loved the book so much I was certain I would go there - it all seemed so familiar - maybe I was visualising the movie!
I had travelled a lot by this time, but I had never been to Kenya yet. My father had been there as a young man - before his marriage to my mother - and had loved the place, so I must have picked up on this as a child. He'd regale stories of his adventures there, meeting Karen Blixen, Joy Adamson, etc. He'd also said whenever you go to Kenya you always leave a little piece of your heart there - it's a very spiritual place that gets to your soul.
So I remembered all of this, especially the 1940's were very much my parents era - so throw in the nostalgia factor too - I was hooked. So much so that when we arrived in Sydney I rang London to try to get the film rights of the book. However, the director Mike Radford had already snapped them up and the rest is history. An excellent film was produced called 'White Mischief' starring Greta Scacchi and Charles Dance which was released in 1987. However, by 1986 I'd already met the friends who would take me not only to Kenya but to stay at the Djinn Palace on Lake Naivasha - the Earl of Errol's original home where much of the action took place in the real and filmed 'White Mischief'. Coincidence or serendipity?!
Since then I have spent many Christmases and holidays there with the owners, June and Hans Zwager and family and have loved every minute of it! They run as a family the biggest flower farm in the world - Hans Zwager is truly the flowering Dutchman! I was also asked by June Zwager to oversee the filming of the 'Safari' perfume launch commercial for Ralph Lauren who had chosen the Djinn Palace as the location to make the ad with his New York ad agency. I didn't realise back in 1984 what an important part in my life Kenya would play but the Zwager family are like extended family now and when they are in London they have a house 5 minutes from mine in Kensington. Coincidence or serendipity?
I am now embarking on helping raise awareness of the poaching of white rhino from their animal sanctuary at Lake Naivasha which specializes in protecting endangered species at great annual cost. You can find out more about this wonderful charity at their website www.oserengoniwildlife.com. As you probably know this is a worldwide issue with great supporters such as HRH Prince William and Stephen Fry rallying the cause. I would hope that the serendipity factor works for me with this!