“COULD you pick up three dozen sausage rolls for drinking time,” came the message as I was parking my car to pick up cakes and puddings for the shoot dinner that evening. Apparently many of the guns on the shoot had not received (or listened to) a message to bring a packed lunch. So to ensure none of the young guns expired from starvation at midday, two of us set off laden with sloe gin, sandwiches and pastries to find the shoot vehicles. We were about to return back to the farm when a change of plan suggested we surrender our gator to the shoot, so they could use it to move guns around, and we would be dropped off by a spare Land Rover.

After confirming that the keys had been left in the vehicle, we watched the gator speed off across the fields and confidently climbed into the Land Rover, reassured by the knowledge that the keys had been left for us in a safe place. Except they hadn’t.

Muttering a number of unprintable phrases about her husband, Fiona tried to ring the owner of the vehicle in case either he had the keys or knew where they were. No answer. Time was getting on by now and the knowledge that she had left supper dishes in the oven bubbling and probably by now, burning away, added a touch of urgency. So she rang his partner. No response. Then in desperation her husband, who it turned out knew exactly where the keys were. In his pocket.

Minutes later the gator roared across the fields and, with not a word uttered by either of them, the keys were handed over. Speech is just irrelevant in these situations. All that can be said later if deemed effective. Until then Fiona could rack up a huge plus figure on the marital scoreboard.

I too have just earned myself a number of Brownie points in the family accounting system. As John and I collapsed onto a sofa congratulating ourselves on surviving the festive period any major family hiccups, came an emergency phone call from son-in-law Matthew saying they had left granddaughter Sophie’s medication in the fridge, and was there anyway of getting it to them (they live 80 miles away,) as soon as possible. Of course there was. As grandad still can’t drive, son-in-law was working and my daughter had a hospital appointment, grandmother had to leg it along the motorway at first light today to take them the medication they had left in the fridge. What would they do without us.