Heroes and Villains: JK Rowling and Laura Rumble's shoes

NB: we know that there are far more worthy heroes than those listed here - doctors, nurses, aid workers, Franck Sauzee, etc. Similarly, murderers, rapists and dictators are indisputably far greater villains. This column does not deal with them. It is designed to honour those who have caused surprise by their actions.

Hero: JK Rowling

As a Scot, there's a real temptation to have a go at JK Rowling. There's a dark part of my soul that snarls "Ah kent yer faither, yer nuthin special…," when a fellow citizen of this country is successful.

However, credit where credit is due. The creator of Harry Potter is a literary phenomenon and has made reading fashionable.

She has also kept an iron grip on the details of the latest instalment in the saga: Harry Potter and the Vast Amount of Money.

One plot detail she has let slip about the new book is that one of the main characters merges with the infinite in a particularly nasty way.

And I can exclusively reveal that the character who gets the chop is: *drum roll* Hermione (Attn Bloomsbury's Lawyers: this is a guess. I have not seen a copy of Order of the Phoenix and was nowhere near that warehouse in Newton-le-Willows on the night of 15 June).

What makes JK our hero of the week is that she cried when she wrote the death scene.

She appreciates the enormous power of writing.

At this point it's worth pointing out to Christian fundamentalists that just because Rowling writes about magic it doesn't mean she's a witch. She doesn't encourage children to take up the dark arts. It's important to note that the power of her writing has nothing to do with magic, it has to do with the importance of friendship, the struggle between good and evil, the complexities of growing up. The main reason I know she's not a witch and that she doesn't encourage children to take up the dark arts is that magic's not real. But poverty, injustice and hatred are real. I can't help but notice that Jesus was very condemnatory about these things and we've not done very much about them. That's what Christians should be focusing on.

I digress.

JK Rowling reminds us that writing is powerful. Writing matters. When you commit a sentence to paper (or screen) it has a real effect out there in real world.

And maybe if more journalists and commentators had realised this when they penned phrases like "Hey let's bomb Iraq: there's bound to be weapons of mass destruction there because the government says so," perhaps some real people would not have died in very real ways that were far nastier than anything that Lord Voldemort could come up with.

And these real people didn't die for the sake of a plot device, they died for a lie.

Villain: Laura Rumble's shoes

All over the world there are men women and children dying right now because they don't have access to food and clean water.

We should all be ashamed by this fact. There is more than enough wealth on this planet to feed, water, clothe and educate all of its residents. But because some of us want more, others have less and many have nothing at all.

It is in this context that we should view ladies' day at Ascot. For the uninitiated this is where C-list wannabes with more money than taste parade ridiculously expensive headgear in the hope of getting their botoxed faces into the papers.

Model Laura Rumble - who may or may not use botox, I don’t care - trumped them all by sporting a pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes made from silk, platinum and rubies. The price tag? A million pounds.

A pair of sandals worth 1m in a world where children starve. It's obscene beyond words.

And vulgar. For the record: they looked like any other pair of red strappy shoes.

Oddest story of the week: World's unluckiest man wins

You won't have heard of Frane Selak.

He is - or was - Croatia's most jinxed man. He'd been involved in numerous vehicle crashes, including two that ended up underwater and two that involved his car suddenly burst into flames. He'd also fallen out of a plane but survived by landing in a haystack.

He has, however, just won the Croatian lottery, walking away with 600,000.

Given that he's 74 and might not have that much time left to spend his winnings you do wonder if Lady Luck is having more fun at his expense.