Over the past few years I have shared a vol-au-vent with an ex First Minister of Scotland and a few other high powered and extremely pleasant folk at a meal where I discussed important matters of the moment such as ‘Do you want that last tattie?' or ‘Are we getting any pudding?'. I've had my hands down the drains at one of my regular ‘hands down the drains' places in Ross-shire (cleaning them of course, not for any sense of pleasure) during which I have chatted with many passing folk and rambled incoherently on to anyone who cared to listen about gardening, football and goats.
But undoubtedly the most important conversations of past times have been with family and friends irrespective of the content. It's good to talk, isn't it?
Moving on tenuously from vol-au-vents and tatties to the all important issue of tasty deserts (it is a ramble, after all, so I can get away with such links), I was munching on a flapjack whilst dredging a pond of pondweed when I discovered an embedded tooth. Now what's the world coming to when you find an embedded tooth in your flapjack, eh? Diabolical. It was one of those pre-packed and processed flapjacks - delicious apart from the offending tooth. And then it dawned on me that it was my own and had nothing to do with a lapse in quality control by the supermarket up the road. Good Heavens, I was literally falling apart.
A new year brings new challenges of course, not least bits of your body malfunctioning or detaching as you get older. Eyesight is another one of those inevitable deteriorations that comes with age, particularly if you're negotiating a ridiculously small mobile phone keypad. I topped up with £10 using my bank card and promptly received a text thanking me for topping up by £119. Good Lord! And to add insult to injury I was rewarded for this accidental sleight of sight and slip of hand by being given unlimited text messages until midnight.
At this point the prospect of eating pasta for a fortnight while my bank balance restored itself to a manageable level flashed before me and a few sharp words were directed at the ducks just because they happened to be in the kitchen at the time. Keeping ducks in the kitchen, by the way, is a good way to prevent them from being eaten by a fox. That was our reasoning anyway. Although after 18 months in the kitchen the novelty had started to wear a bit thin, not to mention the odour whilst munching on my morning weetabix, so shortly after the mobile phone incident they were evicted to a hurriedly re-constructed fox-proof enclosure in the garden. Mind you, the thought of a fortnight eating pasta enhanced by a spot of duck in white wine sauce fleetingly crossed my mind. But no, no, probably not a good idea in a predominantly vegetarian household.
And then there's the matter of hearing. It dulls with age. Most inconvenient. "What? what? what? . . ." is a common phrase of mine at the moment. Though on a positive note, having recently felled a tree that whisked off my hat as it crashed to the ground, my wife informed me that despite everything else my reactions are still razor sharp when it comes to self-preservation.
A New Year offers the prospect of exciting times to come of course, and once my pasta diet is over I look forward to sampling the pleasures that befall to us all when we reach that stage in life when you never quite know what might deteriorate or drop off next. Simple pleasures, that's what it's all about - a snooze by the fire, explaining to the telephone salesperson that it's no good phoning on a Sunday evening (or anytime for that matter) because you can't hear what they're saying, hanging on to my remaining teeth, acquiring a good pair of reading glasses and conserving my crumbling assets. That's plenty to be going on with just now, don't you think?