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  • Writer's pictureLesley-Ann Jones


My Rogues Gallery is at last installed, and the Graduate children are framed for posterity. They hide a nasty stain that's lying there ... if you know what I mean. *

Having my three all home and safely in one place during the lockdowns was a kidding-myself episode during which this matriarch got to ride again, and gleefully. I was by no means the only one.

Claire Rayner, the late, boisterous advice columnist and campaigner who was once almost as firm a presence in our lives as Her Majesty, was fond of a phrase that has long resonated with me: 'Have them, love them, let them go.' Shooing our children out into the world to go their own way seems a terrifyingly different prospect today compared to those apparently coddled days when our parents wafted us. Yet grow and go they must, not only for their own sake but for the greater good. Modern life seems to change by the hour, let alone the day. Our kids need far greater courage, nous and skills than we ever did.

I realise now that I have spent the last two decades worrying about what will become of them when I am no longer around to pick up a dropped stitch, prop up a bank account, bandage a knee, mop their sobs. A moment of clarity came to me last night as I watched the Royal hearse sweep through the gates of Buckingham Palace to be met by the Monarch's children. Some people like to bitch that the Queen was a terrible mother. 'Look how her lot turned out,' they hiss. 'Three divorcees, as many adulterers, a dead daughter-in-law, a wobbler, a paedophile.' Well. Whatever they were or were not or might be, they were hers. She loved them. She defended and was loyal to them. Now they are there for her, rising above personal grievances, feuds and transgressions to see her on her way, and to pick up where she left off. If that's all that we can expect, as parents, it is enough.

None of us knows. It could be today, next week, a year hence. We can never be prepared for our own demise. We can only do as the Queen did, and do now. Her Majesty is lauded the world over for the big things: duty, service, selflessness, longevity, the rest. But it is the 'little things' that will linger in the hearts of her children and grandchildren long after the vault is locked.

*'I'm Not in Love', Eric Stewart & Graham Gouldman, 10CC.


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