The Vicar has confiscated the 11-year-old's iPod. 'You may as well,' she sobs, 'take away my life!'
Upstairs she sags desolately, contemplating 24 hours without Instagram, Jesse J and hair-styling videos on YouTube. I am fascinated by her grief. Self-sufficiency, I tell myself, is one of the perks of maturity. Fate might rob me of any of my possessions and I'd be none the poorer, provided health and loved-ones remained intact.
I enjoy the smugness this realisation causes me and, leaving her adrift without her prop, I go downstairs to make breakfast. Then the blow strikes. Someone's scraped out the last of the Marmite. The jar is empty. I have to face 24 hours without Marmite toast inside me.
My complacency evaporates. I am not invincible. Shaken, I start to ponder the material objects to which I'm enslaved. The length of the list dismays me. I feel sudden empathy with my bereft daughter for I realise that I would struggle to live without:
My wellies. Hunters, don't you know, bought to mitigate the embarrassment of my M&S labels at the school gate. Faithfully they have seen me through stream-wading, pond pick-axeing, mud-floundering and parents' evenings. Every mud splash is a memory. They are removed each day only to accommodate my slippers.
My fountain pen. It and its two predecessors have endeavoured to make sense of my days through thirty years of diary entries. It has maintained friendships when long miles have intervened and relieved my mind when my thoughts have tangled.
Bendicks Bittermints. Lent is a misery without them. I am a misery without them.
My hot water bottle. It's elderly, dust-rimed and spattered with the fall-out from family flossing, but I turn in with shameless speed after dinner so urgently do I desire to embrace this bedfellow.
My bottle opener. Every night for eleven years this has heralded respite from my children. As soon as they are in bed I flee to it. Tin openers, tea spoons, corkscrews are feckless things, always absconding from the kitchen drawer, but this friend is a faithful presence in all emergencies.
I shan't, of course, confess my new empathy with my daughter. Instead I tell my children that material objects are of illusory worth; that love, courage and kindness are the only meaningful legacy we leave behind us. When the Vicar announces the death of a parishioner the 9-year-old assumes an expression of pious sorrow. I hope he's about to repeat these newly-learned insights.
But - 'Poor woman,' he laments. 'Fancy having to die before they've released the iPhone 6!'
What couldn't you live without?