We’ve reinstituted Sunday lunch chez Cashman. My parents sit at one end of the table and Emma’s at the other. Emma and I are scheduled to sit between our respective in-laws but would both prefer not to do so. Maria and Noel sit mid-table, opposite one another. They are intended to operate as buffer states but as I survey the scene, I wish we’d also invited Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon. A diplomatic incident is surely on the cards. Meanwhile, the twins sleep peacefully upstairs.

I approach the table with a decent bottle of claret. “Noel chose this,” I announce to the grandparents. It’s the truth. We’ve had a rather successful and inexpensive run recently, following Noel’s wine selections. “He’s quite the little sommelier.” Grandparents cluck, although I can see Emma’s father scanning the kitchen in the hope that we’ve backed Noel’s judgment to the tune of at least half a case.

“No, daddy,” corrects Noel, waiting for the admiring grandparental white noise to abate. “I don’t smell it. I choose by the label.” Ha-has all round. And then, in the absence of skilled diplomatic intervention, Noel’s in like Flynn, continuing his offensive. “Daddy, isn’t it if the Rozzers are after you you should put your hands in your pockets, stay silent and keep walking?” I sense my father’s mischievous influence. Noel turns to his maternal grandparents, between whom I’m sitting. “And if you want to rob someone, the best thing is to break down their door with an axe, sneak into their bedroom and steal their keys and leave your keys. Then the next night let yourself in and steal all their stuff.”

Emma’s father chokes on his peas. Her mother reaches for the bottle of claret. And my father feigns deafness, barking “What? What was that, little man?” City Dad will be continued next week. For previous episodes, please see www.cityam.com