One last thing about the whole church ick, and then I’ll shut up. While we were in Sydney Clare Pascoe flew down from Armidale to have dinner with me, which was intense and awesome. Also supercool: she arranged it so that the flight was on the Anglican church’s dime, ha ha.

After dinner I drove her back to Jaqi’s house in Redfern. We discussed regret, and I said something about how in your 20s you need to accept that your parents are the parents you would have chosen, if you had the choice.

“Oh you got that far, did you?” said Clare amiably. “I never did.”

It’s clear her parents loved her dearly, she explained, but her father lacked emotional warmth and left her hungry and vulnerable to predators.

I’d been reading Temple Grandin and Ian McEwan, so I was unusually conscious of the time lapse between the image and the verbalized thought. I’d read the literature and I know that girls who are securely attached to their dads are at far less risk of molestation and acquaintance rape than girls who are not. But there’s a difference between knowing something in theory and seeing it.

What I saw was myself at fifteen, with glossy ringlets and angry acne and a hapless choice of clothes, wandering obliviously through that ugly suburban church with the child abusers at the pulpit and the organ and in the pews. And all around me was a clear bright bubble, like a plasma ball, like Violet Parr’s force field.

So Dad, next time you add up your life’s successes and failures – and I know you do – add this one to the plus column. I spent years and years in a horrible place where cruel men wished me harm, and I was safe because you loved me.

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