TOM UTLEY: Even the most puritanical among us must surely understand the temptation. Friends and family are due to arrive at any moment. There are 1,001 last-minute preparations to make at home. But we’ve had to nip to the supermarket for half a dozen forgotten essentials, with strict orders from the spouse to get back ASAP. The store is crammed full of shoppers, laden trolleys stretching back from the tills like traffic on the M25. So we suppress our technophobia, and join the slightly shorter queue for the self-service checkout. At last it’s our turn, and things are going surprisingly well. We’ve told the machine we’ve brought our own bag, and it seems to have understood. We scan one, two, three, four items without trouble. Blip, blip, blip, blip. But then item number five — that vital jar of redcurrant jelly (RCJ), say, without which the company will be denied the cook’s celebrated Cumberland sauce — simply refuses to register. What’s to be done? One of the great moral questions of our age opens up before us, like a chasm beneath our feet, hellfire burning in the depths of the abyss.
One of the most impenetrable mysteries of our age is the enduring popularity of the board game Monopoly. As everyone who has suffered it will surely testify, it goes on for far too long, pulling off the remarkable double act of inducing numbing boredom and internecine family strife in equal measure.