Returning to Edinburgh this year, I am currently porous – which is a pompous way of saying that I am open to all ideas for material and routines. An over-arching theme would be ideal but is unlikely, especially so against last year’s show, ‘Eclipsed’ which was so perfect.
Recently, I came across a new phrase which chimed with me – ostentatious modesty – an improvement on false modesty, something which has always irked me and I need to be mindful of considering what is happening with Tom.
Tonight, Tom is in LA to present an Oscar – best visual effects. Nikki is staying up to watch it live – whereas I, although no less excited or proud, will settle for a good night sleep and YouTube tomorrow.
The most common question I am asked about Tom is – are you proud of him and/or what is it like to see Tom in such situations as the Oscars?
My answer is never what people want to hear because the truth is; it feels normal. And mainly, because Tom is a normal lad who happens to be in a make-believe world where he is made to look abnormal (dare-I-say-it, super-hero) which is why it is so apt that he should preside over special effects at tonight’s ceremony.
This is where ‘ostentatious modesty’ might rear its ugly head because of course, Tom is not so normal and he is certainly able too. He has talents and to downplay these and his achievements is unattractive and churlish. He can act. He can dance. Back flip. Thwack a golf ball. Speak nicely and as importantly, he is polite. But whilst I am proud, I am also mindful that his talents are not so unique. There are lots of people with similar abilities but they might never get the opportunities that presented themselves to Tom and this I remind him of frequently. Feet grounded and all that.
But I do get why people ask me this ‘how do you feel’ question – it’s a question I’ve been asking myself just this weekend – allow me to explain…
Earlier this week, I was flicking channels and chanced upon the world indoor athletics championships. At home in Birmingham, I had no idea the Championships was even being staged and judging by the empty arena, no one else does either. Growing up, I obsessed over the Cram/Coe/Ovett era of athletics when these guys were as famous as any football players of their day. And because athletics is a sport that we have ALL done at some level, it is easy to admire the people on the track and on our televisions.
Like most people, I haven’t watched athletics for years but I stayed tuned for a race the other evening – the women’s 3000 metres. The athletes were introduced and discussed by Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson and Michael Johnson, including a medal hopeful called Laura Muir. A fresh faced 24 year old Scot.
During the discussion of her form and chances, much was made of her studies and this piqued my interest. It turns out that Laura is studying to be a vet no less, a hallowed career and a university degree to trump all others, even medicine?
Watching Laura warm up ahead of her race, I was taken by her array of abilities. To be so bright and so physically gifted – I found myself rooting for her and then roaring her on as she just missed out on a silver medal. I was thrilled for her bronze and if I am thrilled, then how must her parents be feeling?
Swollen with pride, I imagine?
After my run this morning with Tess in Richmond Park – a mile at most with a 3-minute plank – I returned home proud of myself and turned the radio on to hear that Laura had gone on to win a silver medal in the 1500 metres. I was delighted and again, my thoughts turned to her parents.
How the hell must they be coping with having such an extraordinary daughter?
And I imagine that they struggle to answer the question that will be continually volleyed at them and I wonder if they worry about ‘ostentatious modesty?’
Not that I am suggesting that Tom is remarkable like Laura. Tom’s chances of being a vet were about the same as him winning an athletics medal at the world championships – zero.
That said, I smile broadly at the prospect of Tom being at the Oscars and presenting an award. Just being there for God’s sake…
Pride might be one of the deadly sins – and if so, then I’m a sinner, because I am proud of Tom, of course I am. But when I see Tom doing what he does, I am just like everyone else too because I want to know, how the hell this has happened to a normal boy, like my Tom?