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. Unless I can offer him a trip to the moon. Or California at a push.