The list, though still pulsing with wealth and privilege, is no longer the preserve of the landed gentry – and shows Daisy has eclipsed me
The publication of Tatler’s Little Black Book (LBB) last week, after a lockdown hiatus, brought a starburst of light relief in these heavy, uncertain times. What joy after constant Covid gloom to ponder the glorious absurdity of whom Tatler anoints the “sexiest, sassiest and most social” singletons?
Who are these blessed jeunesse doree, whom, for the forthcoming year, are considered the hottest and most eligible dates in the country? Amidst young aristos like Lady Lola Bute, the Duke of Westminster and Lady Eliza Spencer, with their chiselled cheekbones and inherited ease, are the scions of celebrities, sportsmen, fashion designers, artists and politicians, as well as fledgling stars du jour.
The list, though still pulsing with wealth and privilege, is no longer the preserve of the (mainly poverty-stricken) landed gentry. More, it’s a rolodex of a new, young establishment: hot actors such as Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page, alongside Emma Raducanu, Romeo Beckham, Elias Becker – Boris Becker’s son – and two of the other Boris’s children: Lara Wheeler-Johnson and Theodore Johnson. And amidst this fizzing panoply, the name of my daughter, Daisy, appeared.
Daisy, who wrote a piece for Tatler last summer on the rise of the signet ring amidst Gen Z, corralled her dishy signet-ring wearing male friends to pose for the magazine, proving herself to have the requisite social contacts and sass to be part of this exclusive glitzocracy.
Yet she never envisaged that she would make the sine qua non of society cool – being featured on The List. She is thrilled – and can’t stop telling me how ecstatic she is that she is next to Paul Mescal (the brooding star of Normal People) on the Tatler page – but more, she is agog to be going to the LBB party on Thursday at Tramp nightclub.
Surely, the most coveted invitation of the year, it seems far more fun to be invited to that and ogle footballers Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount, or see Kate Moss’s daughter, Lila, in the flesh, than to have gone to some starchy debutante ball, stuffed full of Deb’s Delights, or chinless wonders, as we called them in my day.
When the inch-thick invitation for the LBB arrived on our doormat, it instantly took me back to being 18, when all the “stiffies” flooded in for 18ths and 21st dances. Back in the early Eighties, I was invited to all the Tatler-esque parties. I went to David Cameron’s 18th birthday dance in a marquee at his parent’s Berkshire home, I flocked to lavish house parties in stately homes owned by brand-name families like the Guinness’s, Whitbread’s and Astor’s, and I stayed in freezing Scottish castles, mingling with minor royalty. But although I was once photographed for Harper’s Bazaar, curtseying to the Duchess of Gloucester as I presented her with a bouquet at a charity ball, I never made it on to Tatler’s coveted LBB.
So it has been easy for me to pinpoint the exact moment that my star waned and my daughter’s soared into the ascendent. Last week, when we celebrated Daisy’s 18th birthday party with a black-tie bash in London, I felt that rite of passage when she stepped past me, on a visceral level. The week before she turned 18, I was uncontrollably emotional. I took myself off to a hotel for 24 hours’ peace and sobbed on the massage tables in the spa. In letting go of Daisy’s childhood, I re-lived mine.
I can remember my own 18th birthday distinctly. My mother bought me a string of pearls, a ballgown (it was 1985), gave me pink roses and told me how much she loved me. In the run up to Daisy’s birthday, I grieved for my mother, (who died nine years ago) and I grieved for the loss of my youth.
But the thing that I was most grateful for, and kept scanning to see if I was being truly honest with myself, is that I didn’t feel an iota of envy for Daisy and the life that lies ahead for her. I genuinely feel proud of and delighted for her. Which is an almighty relief – I can not imagine the self-loathing that being envious of one’s own daughter must induce. While I would have adored to have been invited to the LBB party in my day, and was secretly jealous of friends who made it on to The List, that is all behind me now.
It’s weirdly refreshing to accept that my daughter has eclipsed me. Fortunately, I never had the looks to rely on for my sense of identity, so growing older doesn’t decimate me. I actually feel that I’ve come into my own in a wiser, maternal sense and despite the odd tweakment, feel easier in my ageing skin. I cringe at those mothers who try to dress younger and befriend their daughters in a sisterly way.
Although I can imagine that if you have been a great beauty, the loss of your pulchritude colliding with your daughter’s blossoming might be excruciating to negotiate. In the run-up to Daisy’s 18th, I was trying to lay off the sourdough so as not to look too mumsy, and there was a moment when Daisy was mainlining chocolate when I had a pang for the effortlessness of youth. She could eat what she wanted, secure that she would look lithe regardless.
I am also aware, as Daisy follows in my footsteps – she’s been offered work experience on the diary pages of a newspaper, where I, too, began my journalistic career – that if I hadn’t had an enriching career, then it would be easy to feel empty and envious at this stage. It must be agony to live out your unfulfilled dreams through your child, pushing them to have the life that eluded you in compensation for your own shortcomings. It’s the first time that I’ve felt grateful to be an older mother. I honestly think that there was a chance, if Daisy had been born a decade earlier, that I could have resented her if I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to.
In the past, I fretted about this because when I was in my 20s, I went to see a psychic who told me that I would have one daughter “whose name would be in lights and she would be much more successful” than me. I remember thinking how hideous that would be. Blinded by my own ambition, I hated the thought of being eclipsed by my daughter.
But now that the moment has come, I feel immensely grateful not to feel insidious envy. What an internal struggle it must be to fight the natural processes of life so much that you could resent your own offspring, as some mothers do.
This Thursday, when she is dancing at the Tatler LBB party, revelling in the limitlessness of her youth, I will be happily in bed, looking forward to the morning post mortem. I am proud of Daisy but also proud of myself and my hard-won sense of self-acceptance. I’ve spent my life being asked: “Are you related to Boris Pasternak?” Now that Daisy is on The List, I’m preparing myself for: “Are you related to Daisy Pasternak?” “Yes,” I will answer with pride, “she’s my daughter.”