Forever Changes

MY PARENTS’ friends Elsie and Gerard lived around the corner. After school I used to go to their flat overlooking the estuary and watch Tintin cartoons on the TV with the children who were called Matthew and Laura.

And then they were gone. They didn’t exactly disappear but they did suddenly move to Belgium which seemed like the same thing.

About a year later my mother announced that it would be a good idea if I went to Brussels to live with them for a while.

“You will have to speak French,” she had warned. “Nobody will understand you if you don’t speak French.”