But more often there is playfulness, peace, hugs and, yes, stolen kisses by the cooker. But if it all fell apart, then I'd never 'stay together for the sake of the children'. I'd arrived later than the rest of the family, and was travelling to London from Wiltshire when I'd got the news that she didn't have much time left. Someone told her: 'Mum, Rachel's here.' I moved towards her, but my father got there first and grabbed her hand. I used to feel sorry for him sometimes, but mostly I tried to stay away from the conflict.
It was only later that I discovered the truth: that my mother had five children to bring up and a husband who spent money they didn't have or fell madly in love with other women.
Also, times had changed and by then - in the Seventies - divorce was far more common and less scandalous.
My father was reluctant to leave, but he agreed to go, and suddenly there was peace.
I'd guess that, like me, the children in the study never felt confident socially. And you don't know what a happy relationship is like. There were evenings when we'd get out board games and play by the fire. It took me decades to forgive my parents, but as I've grown older, I have realised how much they, too, were suffering.
The children in the study often grew up to be promiscuous, to marry and divorce early. Born in another era, into respectable working-class families, divorce wasn't an option.
I had to retake my A-levels and ended up barely scraping my degree in English at London University.
A high number of the children in the study turned out to be binge-drinkers, something that was definitely part of my life in my 20s and 30s. My mother carried me round the Louvre as a baby so I could see all the paintings. My father would buy me crazy presents, such as the trendy Afghan coat he brought back from his travels.
We had some kind of hot air central heating system that linked all the rooms, and at night, I'd lie, head buried under the bed-covers, as the sound of their angry words poured through the vent in my room. They'd throw things at each other - I remember the vivid red of a glass ashtray as it hit the wall and smashed into a thousand shards after Dad hurled it - we children would duck and hide.As a teenager, I stopped talking to my friends on the phone, because when an argument would break out, I would slam down the phone, mortified, before anyone could overhear.I became anxious socially, a problem I still struggle with.As the years went on, the rows became more frequent. I came to dread birthdays and Christmas, because they were flashpoints for arguments.My mother complained bitterly about my father not helping around the house or looking after me and my brother.I have pictures of them, gorgeous and tanned, stepping out of a turquoise ocean together, my mother smiling shyly with a garland of flowers round her neck. As his dreams of stardom slipped from his reach, he began work in a watch factory, then tried to set up his own businesses, but nothing seemed to work and there was never enough money.Yet, without the trappings of that lifestyle, they had nothing in common, and the arrival of their two children and enforced domesticity laid bare all their differences. My mother, a gifted woman who can dance, sculpt, draw, teach and direct plays, was reduced to cleaning jobs.Sadly, my relationship with him remained fraught until his death two years ago. While many of the children in the study were married and divorced young, I knew I wasn't ready for that.The idea of having my parents in a room together made me feel ill. I met my husband at 35, married at 37 and have two wonderful children.There was no question of inviting him to my wedding, though he did meet my children. I try every day to given them a different childhood to my own. ' That probably sounds awful to anyone who doesn't know our strange family dynamics. You see, throughout my childhood, my mother and father had endured a volatile relationship.Yes, my husband and I do argue - we are only human. We were all at her bedside in her last days - me, my three sisters, my brother and our father. There was frequently shouting - usually my mother screaming at my father for something he had or had not done.