TOO late, alas, to urge you to see Toast at the Playhouse. It’s briefly been and gone before I had time to write this.

But this simultaneously funny and poignant portrayal of celebrity chef Nigel Slater’s youth was a little treat.

For those of us who grew up in the Fifties and Sixties it brought back such memories. The novelty of spaghetti Bolognese (sauce from a jar, of course). Marguerite Patten’s recipes, the height of culinary chic. Walnut Whips, a treat for special occasions, costing a week’s pocket money.

A nostalgic mood which also wafted over me when we were driving along the ring road the other day, looking at what’s left of the little parade of shops in Estcourt Road.

What a change since we came to Salisbury, 28 years ago.

“Do you remember,” my husband said, “there used to be a proper fishing tackle shop here?”

“And Ings the grocers,” I replied.

And a newsagent. And a chemist. I used to pop in to pick up prescriptions. No need to pay to park outside. So handy!

All gone. And the whole row now looks woebegone.

That’s not intended to undermine the businesses that survive there. The DIY dogwash has proved a godsend when Poppy the lurcher has rolled in something she shouldn’t.

Chutneys is a family favourite when cooking seems too much trouble. And the Wyndham’s a brilliant pub.

But the little family enterprises selling goods rather than services are the ones we’ve lost, as only the giants survive, and even they are struggling.

For consumers – a word I hate because it commoditises us and our daily lives – choice becomes more and more an illusion, limited by corporate economies of scale and extortionate commercial rents and rates.

Oh, shut me up now, before I reduce us all to despair!

So, one choice we do still have is between our political parties. Yet I’ve never known such widespread disillusionment with the establishment. And I hate having to choose between ‘package deals’ of policies when I don’t wholly agree with any of them. It feels impossible to prioritise, for instance, one’s views on the European Union over education, the NHS or climate change.

Nevertheless we have a duty to vote. So many people across the world don’t have a meaningful opportunity to do so. Even taking the trouble to return a spoiled ballot paper shows you care.

My worry is that this will be a Brexit referendum in all but name.

Remember, we’ll be choosing who will dictate to us for the next five years on crucial issues ranging from Universal Credit to our chaotic railways, even more chaotic social services, the gig economy, the nation’s relationship with Donald Trump…you name it, the mind boggles in disbelief that any one party has the talent to sort it all out.

All we can do is identify our own least worst option. I hope the outcome is one that makes cross-party co-operation a necessity.