LEONARDO Da Vinci was ahead of his time in many ways — he is credited with coming up with the helicopter, solar power and the calculator long before anyone else had thought of them.

But I can’t help thinking he was several hundred years ahead of his time when it comes to gender issues as well.

Or is it just me who thinks his 500-year-old painting of Christ, which sold for a record $450.3m at auction recently, looks very much as like the Mona Lisa transitioning?

The writing’s on the wall... quite literally

IT’S funny the things that remind us of a loved one who is no longer with us.

Film producer Rachel Prior was out shopping with her family recently when she tweeted: “Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.” Her tweet went viral, prompting an outpouring of loving memories from people around the world.

It was a cosy red jumper which made her think of her dad, who had died 10 years previously, and out of the blue she was back in that raw moment of grief.

And so it was that I thought of Rachel as I stood in my mum’s bathroom last week.

I’d gone home to help celebrate her 90th birthday, which I’m pleased to say took all week. The Harris family are nothing if not thorough. And extremely fond of cake and fizz and helium balloons, it turns out.

Over the past couple of weeks, Mum has had a man about the house in the form of Peel the decorator. By the time I arrived, they were the best of mates and Peel had done a fine job of the hall and landing and Mum had got through several biscuit barrels worth of hospitality.

Upstairs, the bathroom had been stripped and the walls laid bare ready for fresh paper.

It was as I was brushing my teeth that I noticed a neatly ruled pencil line and very neat handwriting. It said “Holes for toothbrush holder”. Further along the wall, there was another neat line and more neat writing saying “Holes for towel rail”.

And there he was, 14 years after his death — my dad in all his glory.

It was always Dad who did the decorating (leaving Mum to pick holes and complain about the mess) and I was sad that now somebody else was doing his job. But these simple little notes made me feel as though he was still there and perhaps had just popped out for some wallpaper paste.

They were also a joy to behold because my father was incredibly neat and precise in everything he did, so these perfectly drawn lines and beautiful handwriting were a wonderful embodiment of that.

But they also made me chuckle. Why on earth would you need to write a note on the wall saying which holes were for what? For a start, you wouldn’t be able to see the notes once you put the wallpaper on, so they’d be no use as a reminder when it came to putting back the fixtures and fittings. And also, I think it’s unlikely anyone would accidentally put the towel rail a few inches above the bathroom sink and the toothbrush holder over the bath.

I was rather sad when Peel finished the bathroom and Dad’s notes were once again hidden from view. But I love the fact that I know they’re still there, a part of him secretly surviving after all these years.

Make a call and save a life

IT is fantastic news that a new campaign against domestic violence has been launched.

Too many people lose their lives in the very environment where they should be safe, happy and cared for — the home.

One such person is Andraya Lyons, who was killed by her partner in Rodbourne last year.

The new campaign is encouraging people to do the one thing we have drummed out of us as children — tell tales.

But as Andraya’s brother, Simon Webb, said: “Just one call that evening could have made all the difference and potentially saved our sister’s life. Domestic violence is a disease in society and it needs to be eradicated.”

A few months ago, the police banged on my door and I was taken aback when they asked if I’d been attacked. Apparently someone had called them and reported sounds of an attack coming from a house near me. I hope those officers found the right address.

And well done to the people who made that phone call — if I had been in danger I would like to think my neighbours wouldn’t have just turned a deaf ear.

So, even if we’re not 100 per cent sure if an attack is taking place, let’s do the right thing and tell the police. It’s one phone call and it might just save a life. And you don’t even have to give your name — you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. And in an emergency don’t hesitate to dial 999.