Joanna Lumley discusses her son's boarding school experience
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Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, 74, has opened up on the agreement she made with her son upon sending him to boarding school. Speaking to Esther Rantzen and Adrian Mills on their podcast That’s After Life!, the James Bond bombshell spoke of her heartache at not being able to help her only child Jamie while he was at boarding school, despite his letters asking to leave.
It hurts me more than I can tell you
Joanna had first-hand experience of boarding school as when she was eight, her parents returned to Asia, sending her and her sister Aelene to be educated in Kent.
She sent her son, who she had at 21, to boarding school after being cast in TV series The New Avengers in 1976.
The Wolf of Wall Street revealed to podcast hosts Esther and Adrian that she had made a pact with him in case he disliked his experience.
She said: “I sent Jamie to boarding school, that was because I was a single parent and I’d just got the Avengers and there was no way I could do those filming days.
“But I made a pact with him, I said, ‘Look, if you hate it just write to me and say ‘I hate it’ and I’ll come and sweep you away. It doesn’t matter a jot’.”
However, the award winning actress went on to reveal that she suspected the headmaster of intercepting her son’s letters and never knew the extent of his unhappiness before it was too late to act on it.
The star explained: “Anyway he wrote me letters but I discovered much later that the headmaster had taken all the letters, because boys had to give their letters to the headmaster before they were sealed up and posted.
“And he was made to rewrite the ones which said, ‘Please take me away.'”
The star began to choke up as she remembered the guilt she felt after finding out Jamie was desperate to come home.
“And so he could never get the message through to me,” she admitted.
“So I never knew and I could never take him away and that’s one of the biggest pains still in my heart.”
Joanna went on to reveal that the memory still upsets her to this day, despite Jamie reassuring his mother that it’s in the past.
She continued: “Occasionally when I bring it up he says ‘It doesn’t matter,’ and I go, ‘It hurts me more than I can tell you.’
“Because I would have just rushed down there and said, ‘Goodbye’ and taken my boy away, you know.”
What made it harder for Joanna was the fact she too endured some awful experiences at boarding school, after her family moved to the UK from the Middle East.
Esther referred to her friend’s time there as the “toughest thing to ever happen” to her and Joanna agreed wholeheartedly.
“I was eight and my sister was two years older, she was with me,” the Wolf of Wall Street star remembered.
Joanna revealed that her sister, Aelene, was “quite homesick” for the Far East, while Joanna admitted that she was able to “bounce back”.
The TV star cited her experience at the English boarding school as “different” compared to the experience of growing up in the Far East.
However, the actress revealed that the experience taught her how to “get over things” and to “endure all sorts of unpleasantness” knowing it will all come to an end.
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