My mother stood before me in her quilted bathrobe, dark hair held back in a ponytail, her eyes sunken, grey. I felt like the narrator of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, who, startled out of sleep, opens his eyes to behold the monster reaching out to him: ‘the miserable monster . . . held up the curtain of the bed and his eyes . . . were fixed on me. His jaw opened and he muttered some inarticulate sound while a grin wrinkled his cheeks.’ Dr Frankenstein’s horror is intensified by intimacy, by the bond and expectations between parent and child.