The setting is the quiet corner of an Italian restaurant in the City; the players are George, an IT specialist, and Zoe, who wears a pretty dress and a big smile; they drink an especially good bottle of wine and when they get to coffee he reaches over and kisses her on the mouth. To onlookers it might be the classic opening scene of a traditional romance.
Yet both parties are married to other people, whom they have no intention of leaving.
Yet it is the most puritanical nations, including Britain and America, that have traditionally resisted the notion of adultery most rigorously.
But sex is no more a moral issue than eating a good meal.
The fact that we eat most meals at home with spouses and partners does not preclude eating out in restaurants to sample different cuisines and ambiences, with friends or colleagues.
This killjoy attitude frames affairs as deviant escapism and fantasies without merit for people who have failed to grow up.
Counsellors form a kind of emotional and intellectual police intent on keeping the door to infidelity locked.
Here, couples endure the challenges of child care, work pressures, mid‑life crisis and dwindling marital sex against a backdrop of repressive Anglo-Saxon hang‑ups about infidelity, seen always in pejorative terms such as “cheating”. Statistics confirm that British and American divorce rates are among the highest in the world.