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My three children were all in their 20s at the time.While the eldest two - though sceptical at first, came to like Ali, my youngest daughter refused to meet him, which, of course, caused family tension.I flattered myself that this was a relationship of equals.Still, aware that the cultural differences between us were bound to impact on our relationship, I resolved to be as pragmatic as possible about our future.
An archaeologist, with an irresistible moodiness and aura of intelligence, he pursued me throughout the four-day tour. Ali was from a high-class Bedouin family and was the son of a sheikh.
It meant too much to me - and I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with being out and about in public if the decision went against us. From the first meeting it was clear that City Hall were serious about getting this done. There is no way this statue could have happened without them and I’m so grateful for all the hard work they’ve put in.
So I was a coward and left it to Kirsten and Jo from the Mayor of London’s office to go instead - making them swear to text me as soon as they heard. I was running through Parliament Square and - probably because it was International Women’s Day - I noticed, for the first time, that all the statues were of men. Telegraph Women published an open letter signed by a group of amazing women including J K Rowling and Emma Watson, asking the Mayor to show us he had really mean it when he said he was going to be a 'feminist' — and to give us our statue. Within a week of the letter being published I was in City Hall with Sam Smethers, CEO of the Fawcett Society, having a meeting with Deputy Mayor for Culture, Justine Simons; Senior Strategist at the Mayor of London’s Culture Team, Kirsten Dunne; and Mayoral Director of External Affairs, Leah Kreitzman. They brought in planning specialists; art specialists. I’m also so grateful to Baron Finkelstein, who worked hard behind the scenes to make this a cross-party effort.
The next morning, before I had a chance to relate my experience to the others on the tour, a lady I will call Sonia divulged that she too had visited Samir's room with a question about the tour the night before.
From the breathless excitement with which she spoke about the experience, it became clear that this time Samir's attentions had been met with a far more welcoming reception.