Diary - Jenni Murray

They are 16 going on 37. Now they sleep all day, watch a bit of "crap telly" and then they're off, p

Proof positive that the human condition denies us a sense of satisfaction whatever the circumstances. We are seized, at the start of the school holidays, by a bizarre nostalgia for the way things were. "Wasn't it lovely," muses him indoors, "when they were tiny and they used to leap on to the bed at five in the morning, so full of beans and enthusiasms, and we would plan little day trips."

He must have forgotten those dawn parental wails, begging for an extra hour or three in bed, and the way we spent the entire day mediating the most ridiculous battles; "Stop looking out of my window" was probably the lowest point, screamed from the rear of the car at number two son by number one. At the end of another frazzled day, one of us would moan: "If I hear, 'Mum, I'm bored' or 'Are we nearly there yet?' once more, I'll kill myself." But God, you miss them when they're grown.

We pack number one off to the airport to spend his summer 9,500 feet up a mountain in Colorado, looking after wolves, and number two decides to bring his friend Ronak to spend the week with me in my tiny London basement flat. We leave Wuthering Heights in the Peak District for Wuthering Depths in Camden Town and I resign myself to a week of whingeing about the noise, the dirty socks strewn across the sitting-room floor and their unfailing capacity for leaving trainers the size of Thames barges directly in my path. To be tripped over in the dark, first thing in the morning, as I creep through the sitting room - they're fast asleep on the sofa bed - trying not to disturb them.

They are 16 going on 37 and can be left alone. No more waking little boys at 5.30 in the morning, trailing them into the office where they would sleep on the editor's sofa till the place came alive, and then plying them with books, paper, pencils and a spare computer to keep them occupied till museum, shopping, zoo and crispy duck with pancakes in Chinatown time.

Now they sleep all day, watch a bit of "crap telly" for a while and then they're off, pounding the streets of the capital with a cheap watch, one operative mobile and an old one to give up in case of a mugging, and the price of a taxi tucked in a sock to be spent on alcoholic beverages on pain of death. It never ceases to amaze me that parents are far more anxious about their girls being out in the evening, when their boys are at far greater risk of violent attack. And just as there were sleepless nights when they were babies, there's no rest till they're safely back at home. Not that they knew I was wide awake till I heard the key in the door.

To Sharmini's wedding party. A young colleague from work of Sri Lankan origin marrying a Jewish boy from New York, and the gathering a hymn to the best of multiculturalism. A joyous mishmash of musical and sartorial traditions - and the food! No matter how many times you've enjoyed the restaurant version of the cuisine of the subcontinent, you cannot imagine the subtle flavours of the real thing until you've eaten a celebratory spread cooked with love by an army of mothers, grannies and aunties.

My eyes are drawn continuously to the mother of the bridegroom. A slightly haunted little figure trying to make the best of an occasion tinged for her with sadness. I know what she's thinking. "A daughter is yours for life. A son is yours till he takes a wife." He's her only child. My heart bleeds for her. A sign of things to come.

Partying on a weekday night is not a good idea when you're up again at 5.30 with a radio programme to present. I stagger through the morning on autopilot and long for one o'clock, when I have a hair appointment. It will take several hours for Sandra to colour it - a little blonder each time I go; there's nothing so ageing as trying to stay as dark as you were in your youth - Frances to cut it and Louisa to work her magic in the pedicure and manicure department. The laws of nature dictate that it will rain as I leave the salon, so I arrive back at the office like a bedraggled rat and a great deal lighter in the wallet. Worth every cent.

Jenni Murray's book That's My Boy! has just been published by Vermilion

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