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  • Here I was in the suburbs of London, living a routine life taking my three year old to nursery school recovering from the birth of our new baby girl.

    Jacques was off every morning for an hour’s journey on the Tube to study at the London Film school and I was stranded in a new neighbourhood with no friends; until I met Thai.

    I pushed the heavy, fifties style pram, along the street in Hendon on my way home from the swing park, my three year old daughter sat facing me on the toddler seat, whilst three months old Samantha lay sleeping.

    “Don’t kick me Madeleine”, I said, wiping a dusty foot print off my white cotton trousers, “ it’s not funny.”

    “I thinks it’s funny, “chirped Madeleine.

    We turned the corner into Hall Lane, just 400 yards from the massive flyover carrying the M1 motorway, mounted on giant concrete legs and passed a little girl, most probably the same age as M sitting on her garden wall. “Can I come and play in your house?” she asked with an Canadian accent.

    “Of course you can. Let’s ask your mummy if you can come along.”

    She went into the house and called to her mum “I’m going to play with the little girl down the road,” she called up the stairs. A distant voice called back; “OK”.

    M and Thai were the same height and both had fair hair

    I opened the front door wheeling the pram into an echoing hall. I lifted Madeleine off her pram seat and Sam held out her arms to me. I felt her soft hair brushing my cheek and her warm body and sank into an arm chair.

    “Put on Rainbow, put on Rainbow,” chanted Madeleine jumping up and down.

    I switched on the TV and saw Jeremy Irons sitting next to a giant teddy bear.
    Madeleine and Thai dance around to the music on Rainbow whilst I lay the baby down on a clean blanket; so she could roll around on her tummy and felt pleased that M had made a friend her own age now.

    “Can M come and play in our house today?” Thai asked a few weeks later.

    I had seen her mother, who was heavily pregnant like me, walking down the street like a ship in full
    sail but I had never spoken to her.

    I walked the two girls to Thai’s house and a distant voice called out, “Hi Madeleine.”

    When I returned to pick M up I was shocked to hear that she and Thai had gone to the swing part on her own with another little girl who lived round the corner.

    “I can’t believe she let them out alone!” Mrs. Rogers, the other little girl’s mother, snapped as she rang the doorbell.

    I finally met Thai’s mother as she stuck her blond tousled head round the door. Mrs. Rogers started shouting at her.

    “What does your husband do?” she asked me.
    “He’s a student at the London Film School,” I told her.
    “OK”, you can go inside. “Go into the sitting room.
    “What does your husband do, she asked Mrs Rogers.
    “He’s a butcher,” she answered.

    Mrs Rogers was not allowed into the house. I realised that a couple of months ago, when Jacques was a packer in a warehouse, I would not have been allowed in either.

    As Mrs Rogers was being dealt with on the doorstep I walked into the front room, which in my house stretched to the back patio doors; and found a tall blond haired man sitting at a keyboard contemplating the music score.

    “He looked up and gave me a big smile, “Hallo, who are you.”

    “I’m Madeleine’s mother. You know, the girl who Thai plays with.”
    “Oh yes,” he turned round giving me all his attention; when Thai’s mother walked into the room.

    “What are you doing in here?” she snapped.

    “You told me to go into the sitting room.”
    “Yes the back room of the house! Brian doesn’t like being disturbed when he is composing.”
    “Sorry Brian.”
    “That’s OK,” he answered.

    “My name is Laura, she said ignoring Brian; let’s go into the other room to have a chat.

    I explained that it was very dangerous for two three year old to go under the by-pass to the swing park, on the other side of the busy road.

    “God!” she said, “I had no idea that the park was the other side of the motorway.”

    And that was how I became involved in the lives of Canadians Brian and Linda; and their manager Jim. Brian was a professional musician. He already cut an LP and was touring England playing a synthesiser keyboard which in 1972 needed a whole room of amplifiers.

    Thai continued visiting us daily to play with M. I was aware that when Linda went into labour to have her baby she had decided that Thai should be present.

    Thai came into the kitchen whilst I was washing the dishes; the day after her new sister had been born.

    “How did it go?” I asked Thai.
    “There was a lot of blood and mummy screamed,” four year old Thai answered.
    “It’s great to have a new sister isn’t it,” I asked her.
    “Yes,” Thai answered doubtfully.
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