Mary Berry, she is everywhere .When she’s not baking ,tasting , getting her buns out for Paul Hollywood, encouraging, becoming a style icon in her little satin flowery bomber jacket (sold out in Topshop ) she is going to Windsor Castle to receive her CBE, which today is presented to her by Charlie as Liz has a bad back. But the main reason I love , admire and secretly hold her virtual hand , is because, sadly, she is in the same club as me . She too had a son, William, who died at nineteen.
This is part of an interview with her in Wednesday’s Telegraph…
“Her three children were sometimes as naughty as she had been when young. Her elder son, Thomas, got up to some hair-raising roof-walking pranks and has stayed with the high-rise life, becoming a tree surgeon. Her daughter, Annabel, used to work with her, but now looks after her own three children. ‘We’re so lucky to have such wonderful children,’ she says (and this is just one of maybe 100 times she says she’s been lucky, or blessed during our talk).
Less lucky was her son William, the academic golden boy, level-headed and hard-working. After attending Gordonstoun with his brother, he went on to do a business course. She describes the day of his death at 19 as though she has thought about it every day since.
‘He came home from his course on a Friday, and I made roast lamb. “It’s your favourite,” I said to him. Then we had a wonderful evening all together; nothing special happened, it was just very happy. The following morning he said, “I need to go and get The Times ” – we’re a Telegraph family – “there’s an article in the business pages I want to read. Can I take the little car?”
This was a small sports car my husband had restored, and William was a sensible driver. Off he went with Annabel, and of course’ – she pauses – ‘he just drove too fast’ – long pause – ‘in a village just up the road.’ I can’t look at her. ‘The doorbell rings and there’s this young policeman standing there, and I knew what he was going to say. I could see it was dreadful for him. And you feel more sorry for him than for you.’
Now we both have tears in our eyes. How can she face the worst thing that can happen to anybody, the death of a child, and still have the compassion to think about the policeman?
‘We rushed to the hospital where they had taken Annabel, and you know, they are so wonderful in hospital: “Sit down, have a cup of tea” – horrible tea. And suddenly there was Annabel, covered in mud, running down the corridor in her pink tracksuit. Gorgeous! If William walked through that door now I wouldn’t be surprised.’ And she smiles as though she can see him, still 19, in her mind’s eye.
‘We were so lucky to have him. Of course,’ she says, twinkling away a tear, ‘something like that, it does harden you. If I drop a favourite cut-glass bowl or reverse the car into a wall I’ll think, “It doesn’t matter. Nothing worse can happen.”‘