Mr and Mrs Kay are sitting waiting for me, Captain and Commander style in two high-back chairs in the fullest blast of sunshine in the conservatory, a place so intensely hot you could probably fire porcelain. Despite the heat, they’re both wearing heavy-knit fisherman’s jumpers, Mr Kay with the addition of a blazer, a Fun with Knots t-towel tucked in his front as an extemporary napkin, and on his head, a baseball cap emblazoned with the name of USS something-or-other, a silhouette of the ship underneath the name and a couple of golden sprays on the peak.
‘Thank you so much for coming,’ he says. ‘Do please have a seat.’
Mrs Kay leans round her husband slightly, to get a better look.
‘Now. Tell me. What is your mission here?’ says Mr Kay. He has a long and lugubrious face, and the habit of slightly dropping his jaw and sucking in his cheeks when he’s finished speaking, like a man accustomed to asking serious questions, and then waiting to consider the serious reply.
‘Let me explain,’ says Mr Kay Jnr, striding into the conservatory. He’s a man of seventy himself, but trim and active, and only slightly rubbed around the edges.
‘My parents have been doing remarkably well these last few years,’ he says, pulling up a chair. ‘… considering their advanced years. Thoroughly independent. Bloody-minded is another way of putting it…’
‘What’s he saying?’ says Mrs Kay, tugging her husband’s blazer.
‘Speak up, Daniel!’ says Mr Kay.
‘I was just saying to Jim how well you’re doing.’
‘Well?’ says Mr Kay, closing his eyes momentarily and then straightening a little. ‘Of course, Daniel. What else is there?’
He leans towards his wife, still keeping his hands on the arms of his chair and his face to the front, to share the moment. And even though I don’t think Mrs Kay has heard or understood, she shakes her head sadly, and closes her eyes, and folds her hands in her lap.