Page 42. " presenting him, not with the usual jam sandwiches, but his own miniature tarte Tatin "

The young Ted was moved to tears by this special pudding which his French au pair made him when he was a boy - and it is delicious indeed. If you want to have a go at making it, here is a recipe and how-to video for an apple Tart Tatin.

 

Page 45. " An arm appears over the side, arching slowly through the air, as if he's doing t'ai chi "

I think this is a very apt metaphor. Babies still possess the natural grace of movement that is the goal of many who study t'ai chi.

If you attend a T'ai Chi class nowadays, you will learn the form, which is a sequence of slow movements that is practised in great detail, in order to achieve perfect balance, good posture, calmness, flexibility and strength. It began in China in 1580, and five styles developed between then and 1932. The most popular form today is the Yang style, which was dominant between 1799 and 1872. It is a form of martial art, but it has a very peaceful aim. The message of T'ai Chi is that if an enemy moves to attack you, you should meet the blow in softness, and follow its force until it can be safely redirected elsewhere. This way you and your opponent avoid the injury that is inevitable if you meet force with force. Practising the form enables you to be the master of your own centre of gravity, and if you move on to the discipline of pushing hands, you will learn how to control your opponent's centre of gravity too, in order to defend yourself without hurting them. In the UK, many people practice T'ai Chi for the psychological and health benefits alone. I myself did it for two years, and I found that concentrating on these graceful, hypnotic exercises, which really feel like more of a dance than a martial art, was a strangely euphoric and deeply calming experience.