Today I went to Oxford on a whim, hoping that the city of dreaming spires would inspire my son to work a little harder. Sadly, I didn't realise that when the Welcome to Oxford sign appeared, we would be confronted with several miles of ring roads, light industry and shoddy housing estates. Brideshead Revisted was never like this.
But enventually we reached the real city and it more than lived up to our expectations. We began in this Saxon church tower, built in 1040:
"This is where they filmed some of the Harry Potter films...Do you remember that episode of Doctor Who when the young Amy was in that museum?"
He nodded politely. Then I casually remarked that the windows looked into the student bedrooms and my son suddenly lit up:
"Really? Oh my! I'd like to go here. Do you have to be very rich?"
I opted for the simple answer, deciding to leave out the possibility that I might not have been clever enough:
"I didn't work hard enough and I didn't love the subjects I studied. I wanted to do music, but I'd started too late to catch up. Whatever you do, do something you love and then it won't feel like hard work."
"Which famous people have been to Oxford?"
There were so many, I didn't know where to start. For some reason, Kris Kristofferson sprang to mind - he went to Merton - but that name would mean nothing to my son.
I had to think of someone that children liked: "You know the man who plays Mr Bean..."
I haven't even got to grips with Lewes yet. How long would I have to live in Oxford before I began to vaguely make sense of it?
I watched a group of students sitting on a lawn, having an animated conversation and wondered what my son made of it all.
I hadn't brought him here to instill a burning desire to become an Oxbridge student. I simply wanted my son to be aware that he had choices, and that learning can become more interesting as you get older.
I think he got the message.