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  • In the story Black Monday, I talked of my rescue by Jess, the elder of my two nieces. She rescued me through feeling she needed some rescue of her own - although of course she didn't really. It was just the wispy, smoky, pervasive tendrils of self-doubt working their way into her exam-clogged psyche.

    I saw Jess and her sister Maddy on Saturday, at Maddy's 14th birthday brunch. That night, Maddy was due to be performing in a modern ballet, based on the story of a local woman who had survived the holocaust and given birth in Auschwitz just two days before liberation. Maddy was excited, but terrified, as the woman (now 95) was due to be attending the performance, along with her daughter - the baby born in the concentration camp. The next day, I discovered that the woman's grandson had been my classmate from aged 5 right through to aged 16. At the time I had no idea.

    Saturday was Maddy's day - and quite rightly so. She's an amazing kid: the one to my left in the picture. Jess had some news for me though and she delivered it, discreetly, when we went to the loos in twos. I was choked by her consideration for Maddy, for her absolute desire not to steal the limelight. It transpired she had got her coursework back - the one we tackled after her rescue of me. She'd received full marks (I didn't even know this was possible!) and the following comments:

    "this coursework exhibits an intellectual agility rare in AS level work; excellent explanation of the significance of contexts; brilliant blending in of critical quotations. Fluently written. An outstanding piece"

    Looking at my two girls - credits, both, to their parents - I think I know what pride really means.
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