I was offered a free smartphone last week by a company I was planning to write depressing things about. It took ten minutes of emails to persuade the press office that, my incorruptible virtue aside, I have no desire to own one. Why should I want to be pursued by emails and tweets, while minding my own business in a garden centre, when I have a £10 handset that lies reliably dormant in the depths of my handbag?
Then a box from another PR arrived for me at the office. My misgivings about bribes and freebies instantly fled. Painfully I tumbled from the moral high ground for inside, swaddled in festive paper, were three large bottles of washing up liquid.
'I think,' said an older colleague, watching my excitement, 'that you need to throw everything in your life up in the air and start again.' I packed my booty reverently in my briefcase and I reflected on the shrunken horizons of middle age. There was a time when it would have required a date with the Vicar to induce that kind of glee. There was a time when I travelled the world with matching luggage and sought my highs on mountain tops.
Now, though, the Vicar's and my deferred anniversary treat was to walk hand-in-hand to watch the re-opening of the local Co-Op. I've since found daily joy in browsing the soups in the edgily re-ordered aisles, while the adrenalin that spurs me through each week is supplied by bellowing Gracie Fields songs with the Mothers Union singing group. Conjugal bliss, last night, was watching the last episode of Downton Abbey with a block of cheddar (we'd missed the original airing because it finished after our 10pm bedtime).
People worry about me, I know they do. A school-gate mother has prescribed a spray tan and a night at a cage fight to teach me how to live, but I'm concerned that the tan will discolour my new flannelette and that the cage fight will be on the night I need to put the bins out.
What they don't realise is that I am content. If I require instant gratification I empty the Hoover bag and sift for lost treasure in the fluff and, while they are sleeping off their night of living, I taste the morning satisfaction of tea in bed with the Vicar.
I have decided that shrunken horizons may be disconcerting to onlookers, but they are not to be feared, provided you own a decent pair of slippers to survey them in. Domestic life, if you peer closely enough, is full of minute thrills beside which smartphones and spray tans are mere gimmickry. And now... I'm off to open one of those freebie bottles of bubbly!
Come on, 'fess up! Where do you find middle-aged pleasures?