Back in the Nineties, Nicola Horlick was held aloft as the very model of career motherdom.
The city high-flyer who had shattered the glass ceiling to earn millions was also a mother of five. How did she do it, eminently less successful and far more fraught working mothers gasped. Though not in a good way. Horlick, all prissy bob and bright red lippie, seemed so smug. Ordinary women didn’t admire her until something terrible happened. Her daughter Georgie got cancer and watching her go through our waking nightmare, we felt compassion and respect for the redoubtable goddess of the Square Mile suddenly re-cast in human form.
Georgie died of leukaemia in 1998, Nicola’s shattered family mourned, then she got on with her jobs as mother and city slicker. But now we learn it was far from plain-sailing. Daughter Antonia, a baby when her sister died, was emotionally damaged by separation from her mum during Georgie’s illness and became a troubled teen, drinking heavily and popping horse sedative ketamine.
Superwoman maybe, Supermum not, Nicola couldn’t straighten her child out and has now admitted she sent her to a U.S. brat camp. Tough love, some say, rich parent passing the buck, reckon others. But I greatly admire her for having the guts and humility to tell us she couldn’t cope.