Our daughter Sarah Jane was officially admitted to the Law Society in London last weekend, and as we sat there basking in her achievement I thought of how quickly she had grown up and left us. Three years before she departed for London, the last of our kids to leave the nest. Now there she was before us a qualified solicitor.
When Sarah Jane first told us she wanted to study Law we were stunned. We just never saw it coming. But she was determined and we naturally offered our support. Sarah Jane was always a good student, and never needed prompting to do homework. She was very focused, and if she set herself a goal she would work hard to achieve it.
From the first week in University College Cork she loved Law, made friends quickly and settled into a busy social life, yet always had time for study. She decided early on that she would like to pursue a career in London, and now here she was after seven long years, qualified and with a great future ahead of her.
Our trip last week started on the Thursday with our first flight with City Jet and a first venture into London City Airport. Both passed with flying colours. Sarah Jane had gotten tickets for the O2 Arena where The Stranglers and Simple Minds were playing that night. As a fan of both (and the records to prove it) I was elated. It helped also that we were seated in a sponsors box and could order food and drink. Concert-going was never like this back in the day.
Friday was the day of the Law Society ceremony, but we had time before that, so we found ourselves doing a little light retail therapy and even ticked off a few Christmas gifts. We grabbed a quick lunch before descending on the Law Society building. Outside photos were being taken and we took a few ourselves, before heading inside and taking one or two more. There were quite a few proud parents present, not surprisingly with 60 new solicitors being admitted that day.
We were advised on where to stand to take photos when a solicitor was receiving his/her certificate and when it came to our turn I stood expectantly with the iPad poised for action and proceeded to make a complete mess of it. For some reason the screen went blank. Then I got my thumb in the way and when I looked up the magical moment was gone. Typical dad.
There was time for a drink and sandwiches at the reception afterwards, but before that we had a quick peek at the famous Law Society Reading Room. And quite nice it was too, if a little smaller than I had expected. We decided to get an official photo of Trish, myself and Sarah Jane. We paid by Visa, then trooped off upstairs to the photographer, only to discover him packing his bags as he was finished. That necessitated another wait before I could sort out a refund! Ah well.
We dashed off to celebrate properly, finding ourselves on the 32nd floor of The Shard and the bar of the Oblix restaurant where the ladies savoured cocktails and Tom nursed a depleted wallet. The compensation was our happy mood and some breathtaking views. Sarah Jane’s boyfriend Tadhg arrived and off we set to the restaurant a few yards down the hall where we had a beautiful meal and toasted Sarah Jane’s success.
Saturday morning Trish and Sarah Jane went shopping in Covent Garden while I dashed across London to meet Katie Piper and members of her foundation for a few hours. We met up at lunchtime and managed to relieve ourselves of more cash as the girls found just the right clothes. Well, a 50% reduction helped. I love shopping and could spend all day browsing shops. Seriously.
Satisfied, we found a nice bar where a few drinks and a platter of mini burgers, pies and fish were just what we needed. After that we visited Foyles bookshop and I couldn’t help splurging. Then it was time to catch the Tube to meet up with Tadhg, which meant walking through dense crowds up Oxford Street. When we got to the station we discovered no trains were stopping there, at least none that were heading in the direction we wanted to go, so we went outside and tried to find a taxi. Time was ticking by and with the taxi mired in traffic we rang Tadhg, who by that stage was sitting in Jamie’s Italian, so while he read out the menu we placed our orders.
We had just enough time for a main course, but the service was poor. No problem with the food which was tasty enough, fortunately. We practically ran to the theatre minutes before the musical Billy Elliot started, but the rush was worth it. What an absolutely magical show! I was a little uncertain when Sarah Jane had suggested it, but what a surprise.
Sunday found us too exhausted to do much, which was just as well as we were heading home anyway. Still, we managed to walk ourselves to a bar and toast a successful weekend. And it’s good to know Sarah Jane will be home for Christmas.