Some time ago (evident from the Poppies, in honor of Armistice Day, my mother is wearing) I heard Shrabani Basu 'In Conversation' with my mother at the Linnean Society. I am ashamed to say I had heard of neither, Shrabani nor the Linnean Society, before that evening. Shrabani I could be forgiven for, as she was born in Calcutta and grew up in Dhaka and Delhi. But the Linnean Society is on the doorstep of my parent's London home, where I have spent many a night and never once noticed the five learned societies, which occupy the courtyard of Burlington House, next door. And they have been there for a few years now, since 1857 in fact.
It was a fascinating evening. And an extraordinary tale Shrabani tells of Abdul Karim.
The tall, handsome Abdul was just twenty four when he arrived in England from India to wait table's during Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. An assistant clerk at Agra Central Jail, he suddenly found himself a personal attendant to the Empress of India herself. With in a year, he was established as a powerful figure at court, becoming the queen's teacher, or Munshi, and instructing her in Urdu and Indian affairs. But her intense and controversial relationship with the Munshi led to a near-revolt in the royal household. This is a tender love story between an ordinary Indian and his elderly queen, a relationship that survived the best attempts to destroy it.
At the end of the evening the intimate audience gathered asked Shrabani questions. Someone asked, if Shrabani could time travel, where would she go? " To Delhi, midnight of August 14, 1947 to hear Nehru's "Tryst With Destiny" speech, and to see the hand over of power" She replied. My mother, of course, had been just there. Delhi, midnight of August 14 1947. And that is another extraordinary tale.
There is a lot wrong with this photo. Firstly it looks like I am smiling. I am not. I had lost all feeling in my bum at around mile 78, and secondly, Linda-Lance-Armstrong-Griffin, my cycling sister, is not beside me, as she had been for the eight flipping hours it took us to complete those 100 miles. And thirdly, the 2010 shirt is mis-leading.
I promise this was yesterday afternoon.
What is right about this photo is that David, despite his fear of 619 people dressed in lycra, was there at the finish to snap this shot and to drive me home.
What else is right is that we raised a lot of money for an essential cause:
In 2010 Wesley's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2011 Wesley's mother died from breast cancer.
In 2012 we remember Wesley's mother and all the others who have lost their lives.
As long as I can I will continue to participate in The Ride For Hope. And I will continue to badger all of you to sponsor me.
I thank everyone who made a donation, however small. It made those miles bearable. And it reminds Wesley that his Mum will not be forgotten.
Each year the Dunmore School celebrates Commonwealth Day. Proud to be a part of the Commonwealth, and led by our dynamic New Zealand headmistress how could it not? Last year Domino was confused to have been asked to represent Pakistan and not India.
My mother was sent to live with this woman, Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, during the war. Cosy huh?