For days now I have been teasing P, telling her that I have been too busy to buy her a Valentine’s day gift. This is something of ritual. I always engage in the same pretence so as to ensure a “surprise” for her. So familiar is the pattern that conversation now contains an implicit wink.

Today, after a panicky phone call I discover that a computer error has meant that the gift I ordered will not be arriving until tomorrow. So P really is getting a surprise this year. And I am getting kit-e-kat for dinner.