She brought me a glass of orange squash each morning and hers was the strong soothing hand that led me to school, and left me skipping or hop-scotching in the still-dark playground, while she drank her coffee in the staff room. Then later, often, I’d see her scolding some nervy tearful boy in the hall and I’d repeat in my head is she my mother? hearing her voice come down like the chunky heel of a boot, stubbing a beetle out. She is my mother, she is my mother – my mantra when she grabbed our puppy by his collar and dragged him from his bed to crush his snout in whatever bad thing he hadn’t meant to do. My mother? She grabbed me by the collar too.