From the age of five, Julie became a key figure in my life.
Part babysitter, part child-minder, but mainly a friend with whom I could say anything.
Often she would collect me from school, walking me home past a long line of garages safely home.
“We just got on so well,” she says. “We played games, we read together, we had indoor picnics.”
Looking back, this close bond between a young boy and a 17-year-old girl was unusual.
What I learned recently, from Julie, was that our pairing was partly the result of a plot by her Mum and my Dad. I was struggling without a mum and Julie with an eating disorder.
“Yes, I guess I was your therapy, Lol, and you were mine,” she says.