Juliette Bains: Hard to beliebe that current crop can follow icon Mandela

Justin Bieber.
Justin Bieber.
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There’s been one thing dominating the news this week.

I won’t go over it all, as in the age of 24-hour news channels, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with it.

But I will say the extensive coverage and thousands of memorials held around the world for Nelson Mandela makes me wonder if we’ll ever see anyone have such a global impact like that again.

The four-hour ceremony in South Africa’s Soweto stadium on Tuesday was led by Barack Obama and attended by actress Charlize Theron, model Naomi Campbell and, of course, Bono, and was watched by millions of people across the globe.

Whilst I can appreciate the impact that Nelson Mandela had on South Africa, I was only a toddler when he was released from prison in 1990, so it’s really the generation before mine who can lay claim to having a more personal, real understanding of the man, his life and his accomplishments.

For people my age, the only other passing I can recall provoking such a worldwide reaction was when Princess Diana died back in 1997.

I remember plodding down the stairs bleary-eyed in my pyjamas after a sleepover (I was nine) to find it splashed all over the papers and hearing my mum calling all of her friends to break the tragic news.

Even now, newspapers and magazines find any excuse to put Diana’s face on their front page, because she was an icon that brought previously unfamiliar issues to the fore and managed to touch the hearts of millions.

So, watching people celebrate Mandela’s life on TV and seeing countless biographies in the papers, it made me wonder who might be the next Diana or Mandela for the younger generation?

Who is the current equivalent?

I’m talking about someone who might inspire enough people that they can be respected and revered on such an international scale when their time comes.

I came to the conclusion that I don’t think there is one.

The only famous face who has a huge international following that springs to mind right now is Justin Bieber.

Which is terrifying.

If that’s the most influential person left in the world, we’re all doomed.

Would gaggles of hysterical girls – or grandmas by that point – be grieving en masse at Belieber memorials worldwide?

There must be someone more profound than that.

Politically speaking, how about Barack Obama?

Being the first black president to be elected in the US is an impressive and hugely important milestone.

But has he, so far at least, done anything with that power?

I’d suggest the label alone, for now, would be what he is remembered for the most, rather than any policy or milestone he’s accomplished whilst in office.

The legalisation of same-sex marriage in America was a turning point, but one person can’t take the credit for that – it’s more a reflection of the changing mentality of a younger, more accepting generation.

The only influential political figure on this side of the pond right now is obviously David Cameron.

But my eyes tend to glaze over when he starts his spiel and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Maybe the Queen is the closest we’ll come to seeing the world unite in grief once again.

But then again, not everyone’s a royalist.

It seems a shame that we’re lacking the Gandhis and Luther Kings of our generation, but it proves that these figures have broken down barriers and fought for freedom so that we don’t need to.

And perhaps that really is the greatest legacy they could have left for us.

Arena bods have finally twerked a bit of magic with Miley

After whinging in a previous column about the lack of current, worldwide popstars being booked at Leeds Arena, they’ve gone and snapped up the biggest one out there.

Tongue-waggler Miley Cyrus will be twerking her way around the 13,500-seat arena when she brings her Bangerz tour to town in May.

Love or hate her, there’s no denying she’s the biggest international star right now, and it’s impressive that she’s been added to the previously dated line-up.

I am, quite ashamedly, fascinated by the popstar’s antics, from the crotch-defying leotards to her dancing dwarves.

But a colleague recently suggested Cyrus might not be the most appropriate act for Leeds, sending out the message to young girls that this kind of behaviour is acceptable.

I can see her point here, and I’m certainly not one to think the child star is a good role model for anyone.

But that being said, I will be joining what will no doubt be a lengthy queue to try and bag myself a ticket to see the troubled star when they go on sale on Friday.

Older but not wiser as wonderkids’ skills are snow joke

We’re all wishing for a white Christmas this year but, let’s be honest, it’s unlikely.

So I was over the moon when I was invited on a last-minute ski trip to Helsinki at the weekend.

However, I received quite a few frosty looks on the slopes – and it wasn’t from the adults.

When you think of skiing, it conjures up beautiful images of people gliding effortlessly down glistening white slopes.

On this occasion I was more like Bambi on ice, with legs and arms sprawling everywhere.

As I braved the drag lift for the first time in years, I quite literally hit the slopes.

I could do nothing as I felt my less than trusty skis slip from beneath me before they pinged off in different directions, leaving me to faceplant the snow in spectacular fashion.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

As I rolled onto my back and attempted to wriggle out of the way of the oncoming queue of people behind me, I realised the string of skiers waiting for me to get my act together weren’t older than about five years old.

Not only were these tiny tots managing to grasp the drag lift with infuriating ease, some looked at me on the floor like I should pack up my skis and go home, whilst the other half just laughed in my face as the drag lift gently slid them to the top of the hill and out of my sight.

I then had to gather my skis and do the walk of shame back down.

It left me red in the face to see such tiny young things show me up so spectacularly.

I guess older doesn’t always mean wiser when you’re on the slopes.

Column: Now is the time to speak out about peace-building