St Dunstans College where my son is a pupil hold a Commemoration Service annually at Southwark Cathedral - the whole school attends, they even hire a train to take them all there, a fact that I find thrilling, conjuring up as it does thoughts of Orient Express journeys or even of the Hogwarts Express. Ben is a bit more blase about it - "really Mum, it's only from Catford to London Bridge" - a fact that's quite irrelevant to my mind.
Every year three readers are chosen, one from each of the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools and this year Ben has been chosen to represent the latter and read the last four verses of Laurence Binyon's 'For The Fallen'. It's also his birthday today (15 already, how did that happen?) When it is his turn to read he looks calm, reads with great clarity and expression and I nearly burst with pride (internally of course to avoid any accusations of being an embarrassing parent).
Afterwards Ben tells me his legs were shaking the whole time. I tell him that's the good thing about presentation nerves, they don't show on the outside nearly as much as you think they do (being behind the podium might have helped too). Did being chosen to read help make for a great birthday I wonder? Yes, but having to get to the cathedral early meant he didn't go on the special train (I obviously more disappointed than him) and also that his drama group ate his birthday cakes without him... It's a hard life.