WHEN my husband is in charge of this country, he says, the first thing he’ll ban – apart from patio heaters, which are so environmentally unfriendly – will be men in shorts and flip-flops parading around outdoors in the middle of winter.

He came home from a recent trip to Waitrose outraged at the sight of several of these offenders against common sense braving gale-force winds and driving rain. You remember, Storm Georgina, the day of the power cuts?

“What’s going on with these people?” he asked indignantly. “You see the same thing any time you go into town these days. Global warming hasn’t happened to that extent yet!”

I agreed that it’s incomprehensible. Pass by any construction site and you’ll see almost as many cases of bare knees as of builders’ bottom. How come they’re not freezing like the rest of us?

And another thing.

The computer he looked at in Waitrose was £100 dearer than the same model online with its sister company, John Lewis.

Bearing in mind the ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan, he asked if he could buy the one in the shop at the lower price.

The salesman was apologetic but firm. No.

What he could do, apparently, was order the computer at the cheaper price from John Lewis online, using ‘click and collect’, and collect it from the Waitrose store.

Now if I’ve ever heard of a barmier way to put off potential customers, I don’t recall it.

It’s very sad that traditional stores are struggling because we’re all so glued to retail websites. When they’re gone, we’ll wonder what to do with ourselves on a wet weekend.

Perhaps we’ll eventually give up going outdoors at all, saving ourselves the bother of buying a coat, putting it on and walking around, until our unused legs wither away under the process known as evolution.

At which point, we’ll be a) ruled my machines, b) legless without the excuse of red wine and c) suffering from mass unemployment.

Crossing the great divide

THIS time last week I was sitting in the Playhouse watching a marvellously imaginative interpretation of EM Forster’s A Passage to India, about (among other things) the gulf of misunderstanding between the colonial Blimps of the Raj and their subjects.

Listening to the exchanges between the characters – cross-cultural misinterpretation at its finest - it seemed a strangely familiar state of affairs. I thought: “Now what does that remind me of?”

Then I realised. I was going to be crossing the great divide between Salisbury and Trowbridge on Wednesday for a crucial planning meeting about the fate of our airfield. A coach had to be laid on by objectors to the massive housing development proposed there to give everyone who’s interested a chance to attend.

Because Wiltshire’s very own Memsahib and her entourage can’t or won’t grasp the need for democracy to be made accessible to the natives.