We were in Wisley last week on the kind of glorious day that makes you glad to be alive. Many trees were in blossom, so you didn’t know where to feast your eyes.    It had been the kind of week where problems which you knew were lurking in the undergrowth like snakes in the grass had risen up, hissing, at your approach, but we had despatched them all for the present anyway. John, helped by Robert, had finished the roof of his office to everyone’s satisfaction. So we sat, tired but content, in the sun.

Ewan who is far sighted, came hurtling across the grass, shouting Grandpa!    Sarah, Rory, Julia in the pram, and Sarah’s parents followed in due course at a more sedate pace.

Greetings and coffees sorted out, Julia was unwrapped and laid carefully in my arms.  She was wearing a little beige wool knitted coat that I had bought with Carolyn in a craft fair in Balcombe.   I sat watching fleeting expressions drift across her pretty face as she floated slowly up to wakefulness.   She opened her eyes – still a baby turquoise – frowned – and focussed on me.   I quite clearly saw her think, “Who on earth is she?”   So I told her who I was, gave her my names and my credentials and I saw her concentration as she listened.   Then I paused.   There was a short space of silence, and then, to my complete delight,  came forth a reply, as surprising at her tender age as if the Sphinx had spoken to a tourist.   She blew bubbles out of her mouth and uttered a few little squeaks.      Then I told her how pretty and clever she was.   When I stopped, again bubbles and squeaks.  We repeated this sequence four or five times, with her listening carefully, waiting for the pause, and then singing her little song.   She certainly understod the ebb and flow of conversation better than many an adult.

Thn suddenly, her face looked anxious.  This stranger was entertaining, but what if – her face crumpled- Julia and she were the only people in the world?   Where had Daddy gone?   She wanted Mummy’s lovely face. mummy’s warm arms, familiar comfort and food.      But the stranger was calling for Mummy, and she was handed over, and then all was well in her little world.

Julia, I thought, I’ve met you.    I trust it’s the start of a long and fruitful conversaton.