Years later, dentists would ask why I had no enamel left on my teeth, but there was something about the pretty yellow colour and sour taste that was utterly comforting to me.
But all too soon it would be time to go back to Japan, and my father. My father was off cruising the Mediterranean and my mother never seemed to answer the phone in Los Angeles.Eventually, I discovered she was filming a television show in London.My mother was then performing her one-woman show in Las Vegas and when I went to see her backstage later that summer, she made amends for missing my big day by handing me a beautiful diamond necklace which she’d had flown in from Belgium by private jet.‘That’s what I did and look where I got,’ she said, making a sweeping gesture to include the trappings of her success — the photos with fellow celebrities, the good-luck telegrams and, beyond that, the golden world of Las Vegas itself.‘When you do it on your own, it all means so much more.So he and I disappeared to my room and the lower tier of my bunk bed.
She and my father, Steve Parker, married in New York in 1954, in between the matinee and evening performances of The Pajama Game, the Broadway musical in which she found fame after being plucked from the chorus when the leading lady broke her ankle. But what I never understood, especially in that pre-feminist age, when mothers were supposed to cling to their children with the ferocity of lionesses, is why mine sent me to live with my father in Japan when I was only two.I got to meet all these people, but my happiest times were spent in a place none of these celebrities even knew about.Tucked away in the hills behind Malibu, one day while I was hiking on my own, I discovered a small working farm run by a Mexican family, who instantly befriended me. I tell myself that he would just hold me close throughout the night, but as I approached my teenage years he made other demands, telling me not to wear underwear when we were out together in public and insisting I leave the top buttons of my blouse undone.Dad wired me the money to buy a plane ticket and when I finally turned up in England she seemed delighted but surprised.We spent a couple of enjoyable days together and then, as usual, she shifted back into work mode.It wouldn’t be the last time a complete stranger reached out to rescue me when my own family was nowhere in sight.