It’s funny, but when I talk about this business of my father and Valentina with my women friends, they’re absolutely appalled. They see a vulnerable old man who’s being exploited. Yet all the men I talk to—without any exception, Mike” (I wag my finger) “they respond with these wry knowing smiles, these little admiring chuckles. Oh, what a lad he is. What an achievement, pulling this much younger bird. Best of luck to him. Let him have his bit of fun.” “You must admit, it’s done him good.” “I don’t admit anything.” (It’s much less satisfying arguing with Mike than with Vera or Pappa. He’s always so irritatingly reasonable.) “Are you sure you’re not just being a bit puritanical?” “Of course I’m not!” (So what if I am?) “It’s because he’s my father—I just want him to be grown up.” “He is being grown up, in his way.” “No he’s not, he’s being a lad. An eighty-four-year-old lad. You’re all being lads together. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. What a great pair of knockers. For goodness’ sake!” My voice has risen to a shriek. “But you can see it’s doing him good, this new relationship. It’s breathed new life into him. Just goes to show that you’re never too old for love.” “You mean for sex.” “Well, maybe that as well. Your Dad is just hoping to fulfil every man’s dream—to lie in the arms of a beautiful younger woman.” “Every man’s dream?” That night Mike and I sleep in separate beds.