Keiko is always polite to him and smiles an awful lot. Dinner tends to be awkward; inevitably there's a reference to something that happened at a time when it was just the two of them, just him and Miles, and her mouth purses slightly, and then she remembers to smile.

She is the perfect hostess. He can't fault her for that. He is constantly reminded of the fact that when she is at home, he is a guest, only a guest and nothing more.

Molly is less reserved. After dinner she shows him her drawings and sings for him, showing off whatever her latest interest happens to be. By this stage Keiko is concerned with Yoshi and he enthuses over Molly without the sense that he is being watched, judged, criticised by his best friend's wife. He knows Keiko believes that she and she alone is capable of knowing every right move to make when it comes to these children. He can see it, and wonders if Miles can. But in that period of time when Keiko tends to her younger child, he can imagine she has no connection with any of this.

Him, and Miles, and this little girl twirling around and looking at them expectantly, waiting for praise – for a moment, he can pretend he's stepped into a life that could have been.

He's aware of the undercurrents, of course. Minor things, to do with attraction and affection and frustration and tiredness and boredom, and mostly revolving around that sandy-haired man who used to believe he'd love his wife forever and saw attraction to anyone else as impossible. If they were younger, more prone to drama, and less set in their ways, things might be different. Instead, it's all so mundane, barely worth mentioning.

Nothing like his own family life, where every sentence was laden with worry (his mother, and the fear that one day it would all fall apart) or empty promises (his father, boasting about the life they would have when his latest venture took off) or bitterness (him, every day once he found out).

There is no danger of Keiko confronting Miles, or of Miles deciding to leave, or of Julian asking him to. Their family will not be torn apart. There is a security in this vague domestic unease in which they try to ignore what's beneath the surface.

Molly displays another drawing to her audience, and there are smiles all around.