MARCH 1991: Sitting on a concrete window sill I eat several different coloured ice-lollies. My mum is in the delivery room. My baby brother is born.

APRIL 1991: I spend two months driving a Plymouth Horizon across the USA and back again. I only speak when I have to and feel happy in the most isolated places.

MAY 1991: The cat is eyeing me warily from the countertop. Cats, to my understanding, are wonderful things. They are fuzzy; they are warm; they purr. The countertop seems infinitely far away, and this cat is different from my cat, but surely all cats are alike. I drag a chair into the kitchen and climb on it to reach for the cat. Its eyes flash; its ears flatten; it swipes at my hand and jumps away. Blood. The shock – the betrayal – the hurt – the pain – stuns me. I fall backward from the chair and collapse against cold linoleum, sobbing. The world is not what I think it is.

JULY 1991: Lena blinks in the shimmering light of the hospital delivery suite.

AUGUST 1991: I am very relieved that the church has annulled my marriage of many years to a man who became an alcoholic.

SEPTEMBER 1991: I travel to Indonesia for three months together with Ton.