Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Grace Dent: If you were on your first foreign trip for 24 years, would you want Bono to be a part of the package?

With friends like all of these people, Aung San Suu Kyi will wish that she’d stayed at home. Wouldn't you?

It's amusing that Aung San Suu Kyi's first foreign trip in 24 years will feature an audience with Bono. God knows why. No, literally, God knows why. I have a sense Bono takes most of his briefing directly from the Big Man himself, giving short shrift to piffling celestial messages from underlings such as "Jesus" or the most Marvel of the biblical superheroes, the "Holy Ghost".

"Listen, Bono," God probably said to the frontman, "Hang on, that IS you isn't it, Bono? You're entirely swappable with Robin Williams these days." "Yes, it's me, God," Bono would bristle, "Hurry up, I'm practising lunging about in a leather mac." "Bono, you need to go forth and welcome Aung San Suu Kyi on stage in Dublin. Maybe do some big Jesus's last supper arms? Shove in a few blessings. Chuck some head-tilt-hand-together Namaste signs? We were just thinking up here, she's been locked in a house for 15 years and lots of people would love you to be locked in a house indefinitely, so the crowds will dig the irony." "Ooh, I'm not sure, God," Bono might hesitate. "Won't it look odd, me standing up in Dublin and giving it the big 'Ooh, life is unfair but chuck your arms around the world, run to you, shamon, peace, hey now, come together people, repeat till fade' nonsense, when the arse-end has dropped out of Ireland's economy and U2's 'tax efficiency schemes' mean my wealth is bubbling away in nooks and crannies all over Europe?"

"Oh, no," God will chuckle, "It will be marvellous. Satan and I were just LOLzing over it. It will be the most enormous act of God-complex non-self-awareness since Jay-Z played the O2 last week where children were charged £30 for a hat with Hova on it claiming "they" call him the "God" of rap."

As of yet, Aung San Suu Kyi isn't meeting Hovis, sorry Jay-Z, Sean "Jolly cross about the Falklands" Penn, Bill "Don't call me party hands" Clinton, Bill "Butter him up for cash" Gates or any of the international "unelected force-for-good brigade". Not even Angelina Jolie has got her crazy ass an invite to stand before the political icon, one leg out like a purposeful pirate, completely festooned in kids, exuding that beatific one-love, one-world glow that comes from private jets and multiple houses.

Rumours that Chris Martin is currently rhyming Aung San Suu Kyi with "such a nice lay-dee. She is a house and they took away her keys" so he can dig out his Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right To Party" ditty again are unconfirmed. While incarcerated, Suu Kyi relied heavily on DJ Dave Lee Travis for musical nourishment, so we should be glad her first request on reaching Europe wasn't an audience with Mike and Cheryl from Bucks Fizz, followed by a concert for peace headlined by Fat Larry's Band just playing "Zoom" over and over again. A meeting with the Hairy Cornflake himself would be rather special. She thought a lot of him, even if he greeted the news that she liked him with the word "unsurprising".

If I'm ever put under house arrest, which is a possibility as I'm quite annoying, I do not wish the internationally recognised rock 'n' roll "force for good" to greet me in 15 years' time. Thanks for your prayers, Bono, but I want Van Morrison, Axl Rose and Naomi Campbell, the international force for non-benevolent actions, welcoming me on stage.

I'm not particularly fond of Van Morrison, but the thought of that legendary grump doing anything remotely jocund for anyone with a broad smile on his chops would truly signify a rearranging of the earth's karmic chakras. Axl Rose would leave Aung San Suu Kyi waiting in her hotel room so long while he tried on different risible bandanas and pondered his bald spot that she'd begin to think the Burmese courts had changed their minds.

"I call him grandfather," Naomi Campbell used to say of Nelson Mandela, brimming with Pollyanna glee, before rearranging a PA's hair with a flying BlackBerry. With friends like all of these people, Aung San Suu Kyi will wish she'd stayed at home.

Don't let the Saudis spoil our 2012 party

It is sickening, sad and inadmissable that the Saudi Arabia's Olympic team still vows that it will bring no women to Stratford in 58 days. As a woman who has lived in east London in the midst of the Olympic upheaval for the past seven years, force-fed a message of Olympic togetherness, legacy and modernity, it didn't occur to me that one team would be permitted to laugh in the face of sexual equality and suit their bloody selves. Ironically, in all other ways, the International Olympic Committee is obsessive about its brand, devoting long hours daily to policing its hallowed trademark, pursuing naughty internet avatars or café owners who dare to sell an "Olympic burger" without consent.

Meanwhile, Saudi refuses to budge on the simple idea that everyone should have the right to raise their heart rates and emotional spirits through exercise. The most basic right of all. How odd the Saudi team will look plodding round the arena at the opening ceremony to an audience made up of roughly 50 per cent women. Would the Saudis prefer that these women stayed at home, too? If they do, the feeling for me is mutual. There are umpteen places the Saudi sports fraternity can play its games that wouldn't turn a hair about "equality". The London Olympics 2012 shouldn't be one of them. The clue is in the title.

Who stole Kim Kardashian's kit?

I am sad for one of my personal heroines Kim Kardashian, who accused British Airways this week of pilfering items from her luggage. Fortunately, Kim, who shot to fame for not wearing any clothes, boosted with a further 36 months of wearing little more than nude coloured heels, lip-gloss and a body-con microskirt, is at her best working with a limited wardrobe.

In a series of tweets this week, Kim said she was "disappointed" that some "sentimental items" have been taken. She didn't say what, but this rules out her wedding ring.