1a. In a charity shop I find a pocket microscope. I take it home in triumph and we gawp at a fragment of paper towel, a crumb of cereal, some leek cells ranged like stones in a wall and an ant with astonishing compound eyes and hairy legs.
1. The path through the woods is spickled and speckled with moving light and shadow. The only bright and definite thing is a red balloon on the back gate.
2. To have nothing to do but chat with other parents and watch our children playing. The birthday girl brings us stacking cups of tea and wooden biscuits, while our Alec drives around in a red car and warns everyone about roadworks. We take quick sips of our wine and put the glasses back on the window sill, out of anyone's reach.
3. "What time is it," I ask Nick as we are shepherding our drooping children home through the Grove. "Is it after five?"
"It's nearly half past seven," he says patiently, squinting into the low evening sun.