Sunday, 2 July 2017

TOM"S SCHOOL DAYS


I remember Caroline coming into the room at the hospital and I had Tom cradled in my arms and her saying ‘baby Sarah, Sarah baby, does not compute’, because the person least likely to have children out of the group of us was me. I was too independent to have children and there I was, with a baby in my arms.   And I remember the first day of nursery and the first day of infant school and junior school and public school and Reeds. I remember every feeling and smell of those days.   I have loved every moment of Tom. Every time I have travelled with him, be it for work or play, I’ve enjoyed his company and loved his cuddles and he has made my life richer and fuller and more meaningful than anything else in my life.   He has made my life have value. And I hope to God, I've been a good mother.  We will see. 
We’ve been tiger trekking in India. I remember when we met that young male tiger on safari and he was only about two hundred yards away and he looked at Tom with curiosity and Tom looked at him, and I wanted to cry. Tom was born in the year of the tiger and that year was the year of the Tiger and it seemed just right.  And then we went to Antarctica for Christmas and saw the seals and whales and albatross and the icebergs like Henry Moore sculptures. And the garden route safari in South Africa where we were stuck in a van with another family who bickered all the time, and saw four of the Big Five and Tom was fascinated by the tortoises crossing the road and the dung beetles because they ate poo.  He was only five.   And the trip to the Gold coast of Australia and Brisbane and Tangalooma Island, where Scooby Doo One was filmed – Tom told me.  And when he went sky diving in Mauritius, and paragliding in Umbria, and we went on the California loop and he gave me a new perspective on Las Vegas. “Do you realise how cool this is mum?  A city of lights in the middle of a desert”. I put that line in the article.   And he wrote his own pieces in National Geographic Traveller and was featured on the front page of the Guardian Travel Section when he was three, his first time on skis.   And we’ve been filming for the BBC Holiday Programme in Mallorca, and New York and Thailand where he thought he had three extra daddies, one carrying a camera, one carrying a boom mic and one bossing the other two about all the time.  And we’ve been to the Galapagos and Ecuador, and I’ve driven an RV sixteen hundred miles around the Yukon with him following in the footsteps of the goldrush stampeders. And did we see a bear? No we did not.    If we had run out of diesel we would.  And he’s fished in the Bennett river and helped carve a genuine totem pole.  And we’ve been swimming with seals and dolphins and stingrays, although we gave the sharks a miss.  He’s hugged and stroked a leopard, and baby huskies and the giant tortoises, and played chicken with seals.   We’ve been to Eurodisney three times and on the Peter Pan ride well over fifty times.   We both loved the idea of flying in the stars on a flying pirate ship.  Tom has met Father Christmas in Finland three times, although the first one was the best, as he had a real beard and Tom was so intimidated he couldn’t even say hello or ask for the Lego he wanted. 
He’s met Norman Wisdom when he was three months old in his home in the Isle of Mann, and the cast of Wicked, although again, he couldn’t say anything to them.  And the late Robin Day and David Frost and Yehudi Menuhin but he was just a baby.
And this year we’re going to Madagascar. I must remember to book the malaria tablets and the other injections.
And now he’s all grown up, and its the last speech day at Reeds, and the jazz band starts playing.  
The governor makes a good speech and not too long. The head makes a better speech but half an hour too long and Tim Henman, an old boy, makes a good speech about him being much better at tennis than he was at economics.   And then the boys go up for their prizes and Tom takes his bow and shakes hands and takes a cup and then he’s gone.   So quick.
Then the head girl speaks and she’s funny and articulate and manages to keep it together. And then the head boy speaks, who’s warmer and not as funny but more sincere and nearly breaks down at the end and so does everyone in the marquee. I’m so pleased the jazz band is playing something jolly.
And then it’s the end. And we go out and everyone mingles and we take photos of each other and I thank his geography and drama teachers, as I can’t find his English teacher. 

Tom is going back with us to have lunch at the pub at the top of the road, and then I turn and that’s it.   That’s Tom’s School Days gone. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

ELIXIR OF LOVE ON SATURDAY NIGHT

I was in London last night at the Opera, watching LElixir of Love at the ROH.  Its a happy opera, so rare these days.  As I left, London was buzzing and I walked through Covent Garden.  Such an interesting place, you forget how good it is because the tourists never do.   There was a woman singing her heart out to a blues song and the restaurants were full of sushi, falafel, German sausage eating smily people.  
I got home to turn on the radio and find there had been a shooting. I texted Tom who is with his dad in London. In the City. No reply.  So I texted his dad.    Tom replied. I am fine. Its not a terrorist, he texted back sagely.   He's fine, his dad replied.  


But how many mothers texted their sons that night and didn't get a response. Not because they are at that monosyllabic age but because they're dead, stabbed in some hellish lottery for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

MARIE CLAIRE MEETING OF MINDS

I attended the Marie Claire Future Shapers, which was a collection of workshops in a day, telling the good and great how to build a personal brand, build confidence, start a business from scratch, switch careers, how t get a head in the digital world, how to be your own influencer and the power of collaboration.  I stayed for one talk to see a friend speak and then left, but you can get all the talks on line.   #futureshaperslive



WEEKEND IN PARIS





Ostensibly to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Eurodisney, this trip also celebrated what is great and good about Paris, namely, what's outside of it. Eurodisney #eurodisney itself is about an hour outside Paris - travelling from the Gare du Nord, if you arrive by Eurostar (still very good and with a business lounge now which you will only be able to enter if you travel business class - not premium economy).  Sorry.   (we tried)





We also visited a fabulous chateau just by Meaux, where the mustard and brie are made, where one of 
my favourite films Dangerous Liaisons was shot.



   




Stunning chateau with a fascinating history - the Pompadours were regular visitors, and Charles de Gaulle entertained loads of dignitaries here. 



Originally owned by a banker, who was caught embezzling money from the state, and promptly (and rightly) executed by the King, it was given over to another family who were very forward thinking and installed electricity and bathrooms all over the place (the French allegedly wash the least in Europe - the Italians (four times a day) the most).   All clean living here.  Wonderful weekend and Eurodisney, 25 years on, still has its magic, although you ideally need a four or eight year old to make you see with better eyes when you walk around.








Buffalo Bills Wildwest Show, is still, in my opinion, one of the best things to see - although I will aways have a soft spot for the Peter Pan ride. I do, I do, I do believe in fairies....



HAPPY PIXS

Happy Pictures in all this stressy time with Brexit and elections and Donald Trump.    Sometimes downward dogs are just not enough and you need to walk in countryside and get the fountain in the courtyard flowing.    So we did.

One pix is of the fountain that has taken fifteen years to install in my courtyard.  And the others are of the Isabella Plantation which is stunning even when the flowers have lost their colour.


It is God's Cathedral.   Stunning.


  

the fountain.  Yeyyyy it works!!!























400 AT THE REFORM CLUB






I attended Carole Stone's 75th birthday at the Reform Club this week. She is a marvellous lady and amongst others I have her to thank for my break into writing.   There were 399 of her other closest friends there - all of whom she had helped and supported in some way and who were proud and privileged to know her.  The Reform Club is very formal, but Carole is not, and discussions always range from the surreal to the abstract. As the last year has been particularly surreal, there was a lot to discuss.  Happy Birthday Carole.

HAY FOR A DAY




Day spent at the Hay Festival.   I sat in the Green Room and watched the good and the great come in before their stints on stage.   Stephen Fry, Alan Yentob, Simon Schama, Sheila Hancock, the author of The Girl with the Pear Earring, various actors I know by face, but not by name.    I have never been before and one day hope to return and actually be one of those who talks rather than accompany one of those who talks, but its a start.  My friend did brilliantly.   Very proud of her.  And I also watched a talk on Quakers. They like silence a lot although it did make me smile when Sheila Hancock said it was very difficult to be quiet when she felt to angry at the moment.  I completely get that.  

And I liked the Hay Festival.  Its a long one, and they must be shattered by the end of it, those who attend every day to help with organisation.  I attended the party at the Wacaba Farm - although for some reason I kept thinking it was called Macaba, no matter how many times I asked.  No wonder the taxis driver was confused.     Shepherds Pie and chandeliers, under a huge marquee, with the same good and great who had earlier been on stage, now strutting their hearts out on a stage floor to Foo Fighter and a very good set with the CEO of Cannongate publishing as the DJ (I SO wish I had known it was him,  would have pitched, or at least told him how good the music choice was).



Hay itself is delightful, and I'd like to visit when there are no festivals - which is rare in the summer. I also like Herefordshire, which always gets mixed up with Hertfordshire but this place has more depth and soul to it, and less commuters.    Herefordshire has more character.   I would describe it like The Shires in Lord of the Rings, only its next to Wales - like Middle Earth.





I stayed at Burton House, Leominster www.burtoncourt.com #burtoncourt @burtoncourt, which is agothic building, with stunning views from each of the three bedrooms on offer, and lovely hosts. Lovely rooms, beds to sink into, perfect weekend retreat.   The owner was actually born at the house and grew up here, so knows a lot more than most people do about the properties they B and B.    Most guests book there for a night and end up staying for two or more because there's so much to do and the walks are interesting and exhilarating.   There's nearby villages to explore, and Ludlow, one of the prettiest places in the country (in my humble opinion) is close by.   I stayed for a day and a night and had to journey back to Paddington.    The train service was good as well.   My only recommendation is you will want to stay here for longer than time permits. Two days is not enough - make it four. And definitely go to the Hay, for a day.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

NO NEWS

Just written about my friend Gina Miller.   I am intrigued about the response.   Like her, I would like reform and I found it challenging to choose between the self serving bureaucrats in Europe or the self serving bureaucrats in the UK. We can 'fire' the ones in the UK allegedly, although our system seems to churn up a whole task force of the chinless wonders who make it to the top in politics, media, finance, and possibly although not in this case, the law.  Its not that I believe they are lizards or anything, although most of them do have snake like qualities, and they are psychopaths, but they come from a brand of certain boys public school, where sexism and racism and all round bigotry are in the code of conduct, masked behind charisma, manners, a marriage, a couple of children and a job where money has no meaning. In fact, none in that list of properties does.   Their functionality on the surface is an illusion we buy into. They create nothing, merely copy and distort.   But it is odd.  The whole bromance thing has a distinctly horrible tinge when you think of the paedophile rings at high level, and that they each have dirt on each other, so much so that no one will talk.  The dominos will never fall as I thought they would in the last financial crisis.  And if they do, they will make it their last act to take the rest of us with them.   Or try to.  

Saturday, 11 March 2017

LION KING

Just a back from seeing the film Lion.   I sobbed my heart out. There should be a five minute black out at the end of films like that, where they have very loud music playing so everyone can sob.   There were so many people sobbing in the cinema that people started to laugh. The emotions are very very close.  A very fine line.   The little boy should have won an Oscar.    It is the only film I've seen and wanted to do something about the situation at the end of it. My friend had been to see I Daniel Blake the night before.   'Devastating' she said, because it was true.   The director is a Dickens of our time, reflecting back at us how the system is broken, and how we need to break those who keep it the way it is.   Brexit and Trump may not be the right answer but they have broken the wrong ones.
So what next week?   Manchester by the Sea, Beauty and the Beast...we either have nonsense super hero films or brittle brutal reality.   Dreams, denial and reality.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

I love my job I love my job I love my job

I interviewed the fabulous Johan Carter on Share this week.  He is one of my heroes.   Him and Alastiar Mackenzie.    Gentlemen and professionals both


https://shar.es/1DOxqx

Simon joined by travel journalist and author Sarah Tucker. This week, they looked at why 2017 is set to be another record year for inbound tourism to the UK. And, there'll be an insider's guide to Washington DC with Susan Marany, a guide from Tours By Locals.They were also joined live in the studio by TV holiday expert John Carter, formerly of Wish You Were Here and the BBC's