5 days in the life of Victoria Glendinning

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The Independent Online
MONDAY: My winter weeks are again punctuated by sessions with Oxford's Boat Race squad since I was recently seduced back as part-time coaching director to help rediscover a winning formula.

Spoke on the phone to our new coach Rene Mijnders analysingweekend race results where we informally met Cambridge crews for the first time. Rene coached the Dutch eight to Olympic gold in Atlanta. Our new, improved squad has done well and there is an air of cautious optimism.

I'm enveloped by a sense of anticipation tempered by apprehension as I prepare for a bizarre week of high-profile tension. The book True Blue I wrote with Patrick Robinson about the 1987 Oxford Boat Race mutiny when I was coach is to be the Royal Command Performance film tomorrow night attended by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. I was technical adviser, doubled for the actor Johan Leysen, who plays me, and was given the tiny role of the umpire, Colin Moynihan.

Record an interview with Carlton television by the Thames. Brace myself against the cold and the re-opening of old wounds which the has inspired. Too late for regrets. I console myself with the hope that the sport, for which I have this ridiculous passion, will gain greatly from the exposure.

Barry Norman, well-known semi-closet sports buff, gives usthe thumbs up on Film Night and the tension abates for the night.

TUESDAY: Sue MacGregor tries to break through my early morning drowsiness on Radio 4's Today and reminds me that the last time we met was during the mutiny 10 years earlier. Awful sense of deja vu. The eight wonderful intervening years writing and broadcasting on travel and languishing with two growing baby daughters seem a distant memory.

Attend the rowing press viewing of True Blue with my nine-year-old daughter, Emma. Gratified by their admiration for the actors' rowing proficiency. We'd spent six weeks, four hours and 10 miles a day to get them to look authentic.

Onto the Odeon, Leicester Square, to Emma's rehearsal for her presentation of the bound programme to Prince Philiptonight. She was born at the height of the mutiny and became, at six weeks, the youngest person ever to follow the Boat Race in the umpire's launch.

Throw a last-minute do for family and friends. Emma is primed and ready and Suzy, my wife, looks fantastic in a scarlet creation designed by Yuki.

Among the Channel 4 and Arts Council grandees in the line-up to meet the royal party lurk my goddaughter Darcey Bussell, who has a cameo dancing part in the film, and Matthew Pinsent, Oxford's heroic Olympic gold medal winner in Atlanta. It's a rare experience to see oneself portrayed on screen. Squirm at the prominence of my character throughout. But the film gets a warm reception.

Relief and more interviews at the post-premiere party in the renovated Cafe de Paris, hosted by Michael Grade. I left only when the last gaggle of girls began to dance around their handbags.

WEDNESDAY: To Cambridge to speak to the Union. Lots of "lion's den" jokes, but unexpectedly enjoyable and the old enemy surprisingly welcoming.

THURSDAY: Reviews begin to appear, mixed from one extreme to another. Off to coach the squad training at Wallingford in glorious autumn sunshine and then on to introduce the Oxford charity premiere of the film in aid of the Bodleian Library. Feel relaxed at last, among friends, and the post-show chat bounces back and forth between the film portrayal of the events of '87 and the ghastliness of the real thing remembered in varying details by everyone present. Cathartic.

FRIDAY: Pre-dawn start in thegym with the squad and then back to London to join my sister and stepmother for our weekly open day at the studio of my late father, Feliks, under the arches of Hungerford Bridge at Waterloo. We aretrying to turn it into a permanent museum/gallery. Week finishes with yet another interview - Paper Talk on Radio 5 Live with my former sports editor, Brian Alexander. Looking forward to sleep at last, but not before an invasion of 16 little girls to celebrate my younger daughter, Tamsin's, birthday - born in the same glorious week Margaret Thatcher was scuttled out of Downing Street.

Dan Topolski co-wrote `True Blue', on the 1987 Oxford rowing mutiny, which has been made into a film.

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