...with young relatives recently. They produced a hearty supper, tackled problems with Auntie's computer and mobile phone, and we talked, swapped family news...
Their four delightful children were already tucked up in bed, looking utterly adorable. One had managed to break a leg earlier in the week and is in plaster...older sibling has been cheerfully helping to carry him about ("He's not heavy - he's my brother"). New baby woke for a late-night feed, all warm and sleepy and cuddlesome.
It's easy, I know, for Auntie to get sentimental about family life. Of course I am utterly aware of its realities. But they are realities which hold the future. Communities that do not honour marriage and family life will die. Many nations have a feel of doom about them. Did you know that, in 2011, Japan bought more adult nappies that baby nappies? In Britain, we have just begun to grasp the huge problems that we face with an ageing population - a problem we share with most of Europe.
Some while back a TV programme discussed the wave of infertility that seemed to be sweeping the developed world. Something in the water, it was suggested? Among much else, it has been discovered that fish near sewage outlets have been developing hermaphrodite features. The TV programme decided that the problem was plastic bags. Er...no, I don't think so. Is there perhaps a pill that people are taking that might be responsible? Is that possible?
There is a curious insanity about some of the discussions on this topic. The TV team found an Italian village where just one baby had been born in the previous few years. Were any more likely to arrive? "No, no, I don't want children" one young woman announced firmly "I want to spend my life having fun, travelling, seeing new places..."
I wonder who she thinks will be piloting the aeroplane? Why should anyone spend their time flying ageing Italians round the world, and at whose expense?
The children tumbling about today, having fun, making a noise, breaking their legs, helping one another, drawing pictures for Auntie, messing up things in the kitchen, making their parents happy and exhausted...these are the people who will be there when we are old. No one else. Your cat or your goldfish won't look after you when you are old, nor will they be paying taxes, producing food, running hospitals. As the old song puts it "People...need people..."