I used to think it began with my mother’s stroke. Now I believe it began when I was four and she took a job as a housekeeper looking after old blind Mrs Toller. At first, Mrs Toller called me ‘the awful child’ but we were soon firm friends and I spent hours curled up on the settee beside her. She had once been a well-known flower illustrator and, despite her blindness, she taught me to draw snowdrops. I can see us now—heads bent over the paper as her deft fingers guided the pencil unseeingly to the right place.
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