They didn't find Maddie yet, did they, Mummy? My eight-year-old son doesn't usually listen to the news.
But, over this past 12 months, the name of Madeleine McCann has become almost as familiar to him as his best friend's.
If we hear "Maddie" mentioned on the radio, I tense slightly, wait for the inevitable questions. And then come my inadequate answers.
"No, they didn't find her yet, sweetheart. Yes, it's very sad. No, a bad man will not take you. Because Mummy and Daddy will keep you safe, that's why."
Since May 3 last year, how many parents have mentally run the "Maddie safety test" before daring to turn away from their children even for a moment? That may be her lasting legacy and our greatest burden.
Still, my small boy is not satisfied. "Maddie" is the big story of his childhood, bigger even than Harry Potter and infinitely more disturbing.
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The McCann family: 'Sean and Amelie can't grow up with parents forever chasing a child they know they should never have lost'
Like millions of others, he wants to find out how it ends.
No one wants to know that more than Kate and Gerry McCann. A year after Madeleine's disappearance, they have launched a "media offensive", including a two-hour ITV interview this evening and a year-long deal with Hello! magazine.
Without doubt, this Saturday will be unbearable for them.
Milestones in a child's life are there to be celebrated. But what do you do with a milestone in a child's absence?
Relatives and friends will be returning to pray in the church in Praia da Luz, but not the McCanns, who, quite disgracefully, are still official suspects in Portugal.
And it will be especially hard, on this first anniversary, to avoid the haunting "what ifs?". What if they had walked to the restaurant as a family? What if they had heeded Madeleine's protests that she had been crying the previous night?
Even Kate's mother, Susan Healy, now admits she is astonished that the so-called Tapas Seven believed it was OK to go out for dinner without their children. "I could shake all of them," she says.
Susan accepts that her daughter believed the resort was perfectly safe. But the brutal, unyielding fact, the one Kate and Gerry must smash their heads against, is that if it had been perfectly safe then Maddie would be here now.
Kate feels she has let Madeleine down, says her mum. "The only way she can cope is by trying to get her back. She can't possibly give up."
Perhaps that is why the case has continued to exert such a remarkable hold over us. We can't give up either.
There is a fascination in a momentary mistake that can never be undone, no matter how much a mother persecutes herself.
In Greek tragedy, Antigone, the daughter of King Oedipus, cannot rest until she has recovered the body of her brother after his death in battle and given it a proper burial.
One suffering leads to another. And there is some of that obsession, and that remorselessness, in the case of the McCanns.
Could this explain the visceral hatred that has been directed at Kate in particular? What kind of person sent them the Christmas card saying: 'Your brat is dead because of your drunken arrogance'? Not much better than the one who snatched Maddie. Do we think we protect ourselves from cruel acts of Fate if we finish off those it has struck down?
Of course, the McCanns have unwittingly conspired in this circus of torment.
The publicity juggernaut that was launched with the best of intentions has taken on a momentum of its own.
But this week's 'media offensive' will strike many as, well, offensive.
Do the two doctors really deserve two whole hours of prime-time when so many other people's kids are lost and thousands are dying in Zimbabwe? Even those, like me, who have never doubted Gerry and Kate's innocence must feel a flinch of unease.
There comes a point when we have to ask whether any of this is going to help bring Madeleine back. And if not, what purpose does it serve?
I suppose the truth is that it keeps Maddie alive in the world, and thus helps her parents to assuage their terrible guilt.
Their campaign to improve safety for all children across Europe is commendable, but it is also a displacement activity. Postponing that dreadful moment when the search must be called off.
Kate says: "We're never going to get to a day when you think: 'OK, we've tried everything now. We're exhausted and we need to start living."
But they will. And they must. For their own sakes and for Sean and Amelie, who can't grow up with parents forever chasing a child they know they should never have lost.
Twelve months on, like my little boy, we still want the Maddie story to have an ending. I wish with all my heart that it could end happily. But end it must.
Spare us from these Lolitas
Disney star Miley Cyrus, who plays Hannah Montana, the wholesome idol of millions of little girls, has got her kit off for Vanity Fair.
Wearing only a small silk sheet and a lot of red lipstick, the 15-year-old looked slutty and available.
The message couldn't have been clearer if she'd hung a "For Hire" sign round her young neck, but Miley complains she has been misunderstood.
'Lolita': 15-year-old Disney star Miley CyrusThe pictures were supposed to be "artistic", she squeals. "Now I feel so embarrassed. I apologise to my fans who I care so deeply about."
Sorry doesn't really cover it, Lolita. The shock change of image is a key part of the PR strategy for every ambitious junior trollop. (Next stop: "accidentally" being filmed having sex, like Paris Hilton.)
Frankly, I'm getting sick of multimillionaire female role models encouraging young girls to act and dress like porn stars.
God preserve our little daughters from these X-rated virgins.
A nation in haunting denial
At theage of 19, Kerstin Fritzl had never seen the sky or the sun, never felt the fresh air on her face, until she was taken to hospital ten days ago.
Along with her two siblings, Kerstin was a prisoner in the cellar under Josef Fritzl's house from the day she was born.
Pale and constricted as veal calves, the children's only light came from dim bulbs in their windowless world.
Such sensory deprivation, such torture inflicted over so many years by a man who raped his own daughter and created a second "underground" family, is impossible to take in.
The mind buckles at the thought of the terrified young Elisabeth Fritzl giving birth for the first time in that dank labyrinth, when the only one there to help her was the monster who was both father and grandfather to that unfortunate baby.
The case makes you wonder what darkness lies in the basement of the Austrian imagination.
Why has this breathtakingly beautiful small country seen not just one, but three girl-in-a-cellar scandals over the past two years?
Elfriede Jelinek, Austria's Nobel Prize-winning novelist, has been criticised in the past for her "hysterical" portraits of a repressive society which breeds sexual perversity, suppressed violence and human degradation.
Well, it looks as if Ms Jelinek may not have been hysterical after all. Even she would have struggled to imagine the cunning beast that is Josef Fritzl.
How many more anguished ghosts have to come up out of the cellar before Austria honestly examines its own past?
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1017571/The-McCann-campaign-NOT-ever.html#ixzz142SUCwiG