The old black and white photo of a little sailor boy, which dropped out from the pages of the book you took away with you is, indeed, a picture of me aged five. It was taken in Nice when I was living with my grandmother, an eccentric woman who was regarded by most as strikingly attractive if a little too flamboyant in her appearance. Then in her early fifties, she insisted on me calling her ‘Maman’ so that people would think I was her little son and, obsessed by sex and all its thrilling peculiarities, regularly took me for evening walks down the back streets of the town so that she could chat with the prostitutes with whom she loved to gossip about their clients demands.
‘Why is it that most of you always fall in love with and marry matelots instead of rich business men ?’ she once asked a group of them.
‘We like the uniform,’ came back the answer in unison
Which prompted her to buy me that sailor’s suit, more to amuse them than to please me.
She would have enjoyed being a Madame and, when I last saw her shortly before she died aged 96, one of the last things she said to me was that she remembered sex had been fun but couldn’t think why.