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‘If you were to ask David, he would say the one thing about me that he finds most frustrating is that I can’t completely let go and just enjoy my life,’ she concedes with a wry smile.

It is 10am and as I settle with Polly in the sitting room of their spectacular seafront home in Hove, near Brighton, I find myself thinking that David has a point.

Polly remembers her and David’s initial reaction being fury.

For David, the world is largely a place of sunny uplands.

For Polly, there is always the risk of storm clouds on the horizon.

‘It was horrible, and as a parent you go from thinking, “This is the one thing I am good at,” to, “How can that be true if your child goes to prison?

” But he always says it was much harder for me than it was for him.’As for Heathcote, there has been no rapprochement – ‘God, no,’ says Polly – but the best outcome of all is that Charlie is no longer churned up about him. He loves David, David loves him and they have a fantastic relationship.

There was no excuse for his behaviour, but there was an explanation.

‘Unfortunately his political uprising coincided with a big crisis in his life, and those two things came together on that day and that did for him,’ says Polly.

She is an acclaimed lyricist and author, whose much-anticipated fourth book is about to be published.

They have been married – happily so – for more than 20 years, and divide their time between this vast six-storey stucco mansion, a rambling farmhouse in the Sussex countryside and a mews house in London.

What Charlie couldn’t have known, because Heathcote, who has a track record of breakdowns and erratic behaviour, didn’t explain, was that his mother had just died.

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