“Well that was really terribly good,” I remarked to Narcoleptic Dave.

Nods of appreciation all round.

We chattered away enthusiastically as we left the Arts Centre, like extras in a BBC drama who have been instructed to behave like typical people leaving an Arts Centre. In fact Bill Bryson’s one-man show, imaginatively titled ‘An Evening with Bill Bryson’ had been excellent. He is one of those people that manages to write tight, very funny vignettes about nothing in particular, which is the most difficult type of writing there is, and only the most brilliant can do it.

A lady thrust something into my hand, and my whole world came crashing down around me.

Occasionally, especially as one approaches the second half of one’s life, one notices little signs about ageing. A more-than-passing interest in the snooker. Annoyance about loud music. Television programmes that one watches being interrupted by stairlift commercials. That sort of thing.

I read the flyer.

‘Alan Titchmarsh presents “Fill my Stocking” – a Christmas Anthology’.

Now, I have nothing whatsoever against Alan Titchmarsh. Easy targets are Not My Bag, and having a go at Alan Titchmarsh is not so much like shooting fish in a barrel than chucking two litres of rohypnol into the aforementioned barrel and following it with a stick of dynamite. He has his audience and I have mine. (I suspect actually his audience is a bit larger but it’s quality that counts and besides he has been on the telly which is unfair).

But the fact that one has been singled out as somebody likely to enjoy ‘Alan Titchmarsh presents “Fill my Stocking” – a Christmas Anthology’ does tend to hit hard.

My legs carried on walking and I looked back, desperately. The ladies with the fliers weren’t giving them to everyone. They were choosing. Holding back. Picking the people most likely to attend.

Typical Alan Titchmarsh. The fliers probably cost about 0.000001p each, and still he had instructed his henchwomen to be thrifty in their distribution.

Sadly I walked out on to the street.

“Do you fancy a pint?” asked Big A.

The rest of the party nodded enthusiastically. Narcoleptic Dave went home for an early night.