In my role as teacher and personal tutor I had a conversation today. The mother on the phone said: do you have any children? I have no children. I am fed up of the implication that I know nothing about children because I never weaned one. In a moment of pique I said yes, I have four daughters. Colleagues in the office raised an eyebrow. Oh, How lovely, cooed the mother. What are their names? I took a deep breath and answered: Cordelia, Rosalind, Viola and … (I rejected Goneril) Portia. On the end of the line the mother gasped. How lovely! How old are they? I took another breath. Thirteen Eleven Nine and Seven.. How lovely and how nicely spaced out! I agreed that the equidistance was indeed pleasing. The mother was getting more interested in these four ficticious offsprings. What do they like to do? she said, audibly melting. She had just the one fractious and carbuncular eighteen-year-old son who gave her and her tiresome banker of a husband no end of trouble. They all play musical instruments, I said. Which instruments? I pictured the quartet in my mind. Piano; violin; cello and… trombone. She was surprised by the trombone. The seven year old. She’s the rebel, I said. Portia, she said. That’s right. She already knew them better than I did. How lovely! she said again. Fortunately, I said, warming to the task, they have their mother’s looks. Anyway, to get back to Alexander (their all too real scion), I think he really needs to get that coursework in by next Friday.