Newlyweds Florence and Edward clink their silverware and stare embarassingly at their congealed gravy dinner, thinking about what is to come that night. Florence is horrified at the thought and Edward can barely contain his excitement.
Edward, an old man at the end of the story, thinking back to this night:
"When he thought of her, it rather amazed him, that he had let that girl with her violin go... Love and patience - if only he had had them both at once - would surely have seen them both through. And then what unborn children might have had their chances, what young girl with a headband might have become his loved familiar? This is how the entire course of a life can be changed - by doing nothing."
How sad to think that the course of an entire lifetime can be derailed so easily. I think Ian McEwan is very wise.