Whenever I think back to my childhood I find my eyes filling with tears. This is not because my early days were particularly unhappy. The tears are of nostalgia for a time of extraordinary intimacy and intensity. I grew up during the Second World War (I was 2½ years old when war broke out) and my earliest memories are of scenes played out against a background of anxiety and uncertainty. I remember vividly the horror of the first major air-raid on the city of Bristol in 1940 when my parents and I (I was an only child) were trapped for half the night in the house of my paternal grandmother, on the far side of the city many miles from our home. I recall the long walk back through shattered streets still ablaze and the arrival at the pile of masonry which, only hours before, had been the home of my mother’s parents. I still remember my mother’s scream and the comforting neighbour with the brandy bottle who assured her that my grandparents were safe and that their newly erected air-raid shelter had stood the vital test.