John – oh I can’t call him that. Those wicked girls! – has finally spoken to me. It’s taken more than a week and when it happened last night I rather wished it wasn’t his first utterance in my direction. But it’s a start, I suppose.

I had just ushered him out of the bathroom where he’d been brushing his teeth. Peony was out, said she needed a break from the “grind of motherhood”.  Charlton was going to read to the boy and fair play to my brother, he’s been very solicitous of our new ward, even missing out on his Samurai Film Club yesterday so that he could continue the story they had started.

The three of us stood on the landing and suddenly and without any inkling that it was coming, a huge jolt of misery reverberated through me. Was this to be my fate so soon after I’d left my job to start my new life as a full-time writer? Was I really going to become a parent again? At my age! Too old to be the mother of a four-year-old. Too young to consider myself his grandmother.

“Oh Christ,” I muttered to my brother. “I haven’t got the energy for this. I can’t do it. I just can’t.”

They were both looking at me, wondering what was bugging me this time.

“What about my book launch? I’ve got a book launch to organise.”

And that child simply frowned and said: “But they’re not proper books. Not really.”

And then he looked to Charlton for confirmation of my idiocy and my brother merely led him away, back into the half-lit bedroom, with a “well, it depends how you define a book. But no, not in the strict sense”.

Could anyone feel more alone in such crowded circumstances?