One of my earliest memories is of a spectacular cedar of Lebanon near my childhood home in south-west London. One winter morning we found it dead, struck by lightning. Its huge trunk and limbs were strewn haphazardly and were being sawn up. That was the first time I saw my father cry. I thought about the huge, heavy tree that was hundreds of years old and that I had imagined to be invincible, but wasn’t, and about my father, who I had thought would always be in benign control of everything, and wasn’t. I remember my mother saying that there had been a whole world in that tree. As a child, I had ...


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