Car 1

Mr Paul Hennessey

Outward appearance

Near retirement. Impish face with folds of pale flesh. Watery eyes, a head of snow white hair. Reading The Guardian, folded down to a column's width to keep it in control.

Inside information

Runs the purchasing department of Dun and Old . Member of the Institute of Professional Purchasers. Author of Tightening the Screws: Purchasing Secrets of Japanese Business. Commutes from Haywards Heath and writes his books on British Rail.

What he is doing or thinking

He is not reading the paper, but thinking of his wife, Elisabeth. She is 55 and has gradually given up all her interests. Instead of working with the Sunday School, she says, "They don't want some old lady." She no longer goes to her art classes -- "I've stopped getting any better." She only half finishes books and ducks out of bridge evenings.

Their daughter now lives in Cork. She came over for Christmas with their first grandchild. Oh, he is a bouncy babe, blue eyes, face like an apple. A light of recognition came into his eyes whenever he saw his Gran. He needed to be be burped, talked to, petted, tucked in, changed. He kicked and shrieked with laughter. She played for hours with his chewable blue train. Choo choo Choo choo.

Now they've gone back to Ireland and his wife is bereft. It's two weeks since they went home. Paul saw her this morning. She sat at the kitchen table in her dressing gown, cradling empty air.

A crazy idea comes to him. Could they adopt? The train slows. He puts the newspaper away.

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