I am leading a flotilla of small children to Sunday school. My daughter hurries to catch up with me, the big Bible under her arm. 'Ali says that Madison says that if you want a baby you have to drink from a man's dinky,' she shouts over a row of bobbing toddler heads.
'You explain,' I hiss to Ali's mother and burst hastily into prayer. Ali's mother busies herself with Pritt sticks and doesn't seem to hear. My daughter clocks the embarrassment and saves it for later.
Later comes when I'm sorting the laundry. 'So how does...?' I've braced myself for this moment for the last two years. Ever since an inflated picture of a sperm nosing an egg billowed from a street banner outside her primary school and she thought it was a worm that liked apples. Calm, frank and measured, I was going to be. Only when she asks I dash for the walk-in wardrobe and shriek for the Vicar. And the Vicar steps on one of her Sylvanian family rodents and the ensuing trauma distracts her.
The former Sunday School teacher is concerned. Says it's essential to be calm, frank and measured. That afternoon there is a package on the doorstep. It's the Usborne book of the 'Facts of Life' with a note suggesting that my daughter and I explore it together at the kitchen table. It falls open on a brief description of the '69' in the glossary and hastily I hide it under my back issues of Gardener's World.
I decide I will fall back on calmness, frankness and measurement and steer clear of printed illustrations. I steel myself and approach my daughter. 'You know you were asking about babies...?' I say shakily. She doesn't glance up. 'Oh that!' she answers casually. 'Daddy's already explained it.' I am slack with relief: 'And is there anything you want to ask?' 'Yes,' she says. 'Why would anyone ever want to get married?'