My telephone conversations with my daughter are something of a joke in the i office.
For a start, they are heralded by the strains of The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (from Handel's oratorio Solomon). It seems an appropriate ringtone for one whose demands are urgent, imperious and, quite often, expensive.
The Friday-night request for a pizza order is a favourite among my colleagues. My daughter doesn't have a credit card (Heaven forfend!) so I have to order the margarita and the pepperoni for her and the "couple of friends" who have somehow self-replicated into 20 people since I said it was OK to invite them.
To be fair to my children (although my son doesn't ring up so much), they have adapted to life with a mother who works daily newspaper hours with remarkable equanimity.
Indeed, in classic Darwinian fashion, they have evolved in a manner that exploits the idiosyncrasies of the Summerley working environment. So I heaved a bit of a sigh of relief when my daughter headed off to Paris on the Eurostar at 6am yesterday morning.
No pizza orders. No requests for shampoo/mascara/shower gel from Boots ("you can get them when you get your sandwich, Mum"). No suggestions that I trawl Hennes/ Zara/Gap for a new top/skirt/jacket. Bliss. So why did I start to miss her five minutes later?
My daughter's been away before, on school trips and so on, so it's not as if I've never been parted from her. But this October, she goes to university, and both she and my son will be living away from home.
I keep telling myself that it will be heaven. But I suspect I shall be looking forward to The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba come the Christmas holidays!
Stefano Hatfield is awayFollow @stefanohat Reuse content