All week, I have been waiting for a baby to arrive. I do not yet know his name. Preparations have included a trip to Ikea to buy a sheepskin rug. As we entered, my wife remarked that so notorious is the shop's reputation for causing marital bust-ups, divorce lawyers should line up outside with leaflets. We resolved to be full of sweetness and light but still came out spitting, the ostensible reason being my addiction to buying shelving for an already overstuffed house. The real cause is competition for resources: hunting down the required item in a crowded space sets even loved ones at each other's throats.
Another reason for spousal disharmony is religion. Our first son, Esmond, is still not yet christened at two and a half. Tilly and I can't agree on denomination. I'm a half-Irish Catholic, she is an unbaptised quasi-Buddhist of Anglican extraction. I was hoping her brother Tristram Hunt's recent television series, The Protestant Revolution, would free her fixed ideas about the rightness of the established Church here in Britain. Alas, it's had the opposite effect. She has begun accusing me of not having enough "Puritan" in my psychology. This, apparently, is why I take so many taxis.
We managed to attend another child's christening. That of Albert, son of our friends Mark and Antke de Souza. Mark's father, Fitzroy de Souza, one of Africa's greatest lawyers (a Kenyan of Goan origin, he represented Jomo Kenyatta and others in the Mau Mau trials), was present. At tea afterwards, Fitz and I spent an enjoyable few hours discussing the differences between the Portuguese and British African empires, along with a Portuguese journalist, Natal Vaz. The conversation then turned to the McCann case. Natal said the parents had come under suspicion because of a simple cultural confusion: the Portuguese, whose children stay up late, can't understand why anyone would put their children to bed at seven.
Esmond mostly adheres to British bedtimes, but this week he has been tricky. We think it is probably because he's nervous about the arrival of a sibling, and have just let him stay up. He entertained a dinner guest on Tuesday with gnomic remarks: "You're a mystery, Mum", and (studying the cover of one of the Booker Prize contenders I've been reading as a judge), "That's ordinary, Dada." Once he finally went to bed, our guest - who works at St Mungo's, the charity for the homeless - told us that drug addicts are getting older. This was confirmed the next morning when we went for a walk in our local park, where Islington Council is trying to move on a band of merry vagrants. But if they are displaced, where will the drug-crazed ancients go? Probably just to the next green space along.
Perhaps there is some arcadia where pensioners' bad habits might be turned to ecological advantage, but it won't happen here: a council gardener was recently sacked for attacking a crack fiend with his strimmer. I did not relate the case to Prashant Vaze, an economist at the Office of Climate Change (the department set up to co-ordinate government policy) when I visited him for a meeting on Wednesday. Despite the taxi taking, I'm working on a novel that promulgates environmentalism. Prashant has kindly agreed to tell me some of what the OCC is up to (more than changing light bulbs, George Bush's current proposal).
Carrot or stick?
The week is nearly over, the expected baby still not come. We have been eating curry and taking more walks. On Saturday I was reminded of international climate-change discussions during a stroll on Hampstead Heath, where Tilly, Esmond and I witnessed a set-to between pit bulls. Picture the scene. Mutually the dogs lock jaws - blood spilling over the path, arcs of saliva jetting into the air - while their benighted owners tug ineffectually at the hind legs of their respective animals. The only way, says my wife, who is medically trained, to get one of these creatures to release its powerful grip is to shove a stick up its bottom. Perhaps it will come to that with George Bush, too. But who will do the deed?
Giles Foden is author of "The Last King of Scotland" and contributing editor of the New Statesman