2 MAY 1992, Page 29

The Patriarch

Since I was young, I've been the youngest and worshipped Venus in the sacred and fragrant colonnades of even her humblest serving maids.

Some of the time I've managed to outface the silly rules, and valued a graceful poem higher than a contract of employment.

And thus I've spent my life surrounded by books and children. Now my grandson advises me to act my age. Outrageous innocence!

Poor stranger, I've been younger than you for longer than you would remember. I've celebrated life so long I am too old to change.

Thomas Land