Last week I got an email from the Prime Minister’s office requesting Ethan Frazer’s presence at a Chanukah reception at Number Ten. Who was this Ethan Frazer? I do have an Ethan, my thirteen year old son – Ethan Jacobs. Surely if this really was from Downing Street, they would have had the correct name. On the other hand, what if it were for him? Earlier this year he had completed a Bar Mitzvah project of volunteering for thirteen different charities. He’d schmoozed his way through the project and even managed to raise £1000 for Tikva Orphanage in the Ukraine. If Mr Cameron wanted to hang out with him, it would have been for this achievement, not for having a tidy room (he doesn’t.) Just in case, I replied to the email asking if it were intended for my son and who had put his name forward. I also sent a Facebook message to the guy from the Jewish Volunteering Network, who had co-ordinated the project, asking if he knew anything about it.
The next day I went to work with the email on my mind. It was probably spam but I’d find my two street savvyest colleagues, Jude and Carla, the ones with their fingers on the pulses of digital networking and media and ask them what they thought. They thought it was hilarious. A kidder had been kidded. Jude was really in the know, “Gosh,” she said, “ It’s really scary how these spammers work. They’ve collated all this information about you from the internet.”
I never heard back from Number Ten or JVN, so the gloating girls were probably right.
Ethan has been growing like a, well like a teenager, and has been harping on about having a new school blazer for ages. He lifted up his arms to show me the extent of the embarrassingness of it. I brushed him off, school uniform does not come cheap:
“Will you be playing netball in it?”
“Well then it’s fine. Just don’t lift up your arms. And anyway you’ve only got another two and a half years until you don’t have to wear uniform any more.”
Two thirty this afternoon and I get a Facebook message from the guy at JVN. Ethan had been nominated to meet the Prime Minister and he was due there in two hours. I was at work and Ethan was at school. What a shame, we’d just have to miss it. Besides, I had a big pile of ironing waiting for me at home. This time a truly wise colleague, Avital, had her say: “GO! GO! You can’t miss this, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”
I rang the school with a ‘you’ll never believe what’s happened’ story and they agreed to let him out early. I set off to collect him and drove the whole way behind a learner driver. When I eventually got to him, the boy was excited, very excited. He was slightly disappointed though that he had not had chance to look forward to the event and even more so that he would be “chillaxing” with the premier in his miniscule blazer. “Oh, and there’s one more thing Mum. You know I spilt soup on my trousers on Monday… well, I never put them in the wash and …” I looked over. He was wearing them.
We caught the train and miraculously arrived in Whitehall only a few minutes late. The policemen outside needed his name. There was no Ethan Jacobs, but there was an Ethan Frazer.
“Can I accompany him, I asked, “he’s only thirteen and very shy.” (He’s not.)
“Is your name on the list?”
“Well you’re not coming in.”
(At this point I wanted to make a nightclub/bouncer quip, but I thought better of it as he didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour.)
Off the lad trotted, leaving me to my own devices. It was an unusually mild night and there is no shortage of cafes around that area.
It is not a thirteen year old boy’s natural habitat to be in a grand, high ceilinged room with community leaders and politicians. From his account, he did not work the room, but the room worked him and he met the Chief Rabbi, the Israeli Ambassador and his headmaster. There was a fantastic spread of kosher food which he, uncharacteristically, ignored. A tad overwhelmed by the situation? Probably, but standing with one arm hiding a particularly worn patch on the blazer was not conducive to plate balancing. People did try to feed him. He refused politely, claiming that his mum had a big Chanuka meal waiting for him at home. Had I heck! I’m doing the “Five and Two” diet and it’s every man for himself in our house two days a week.
(He did use the toilet there though, so that is something that he can tell his grandchildren.)
Alas, he did not speak to the great man himself (both of their losses), but he did have quite a day.
And as for Jude and Carla …..