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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.

Instead, believing he had been rejected again, Charlie binged on a cocktail of Valium, whisky and LSD before heading into London for the student protests, and the consequences became headline news.

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

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Charlie’s personal crisis centred on his relationship with his biological father, the poet and actor Heathcote Williams, who walked out on Polly when Charlie was a baby.

By the age of five, Charlie had been adopted by David, and he had no contact with Heathcote until his teens.

” until that point, and I think he would just say he loves the dad he has and that he got a better father out of it.’Interestingly, the power of paternal bonds is a key theme of Polly’s new novel, The Kindness, which tells the story of a couple whose loving relationship is undermined by a well-intentioned deception.

It’s a compelling, insightfully told tale that explores the ripple effects of biological attachments.

‘I know I can be doomy, but sometimes things do go wrong, and when that happens at least I can say to David, “See, pessimism works,”’ she says with a playful roll of her eyes.

The last time Polly was in the public eye, things had gone very wrong indeed.‘But we got him home and he started remembering what had happened – and of course there was the photograph that became so iconic – and at some point someone said that we ought to call a lawyer, and we were, like, “Really?” The lawyer talked to Charlie and said that he could be looking at a prison term, and that was when what we were facing really hit home.’Charlie served four months behind bars and was electronically tagged and under a curfew for a further four months.‘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.Now 25, he has since finished his degree and become a journalist and campaigner for The Howard League for Penal Reform.

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