HERE’S another aspect of life on this planet that I dislike: dinner parties. It’s their formal informality I can’t abide: having to sit on seats, make conversation, wear a napkin, all things you never do in the comfort of your own home.

You have to watch how much you drink as well. Some people neck the wine so fast that their glass sits empty while those of the jessies round the table remain hardly touched.

Then I – I mean they, the person with the empty glass – have to reach across the table to fill themselves up again, breaking some rule or other because your host has been too slow to fill you up in the whole minute since proceedings began.

People don’t like you farting, or saying nothing, or talking too much. You must praise the meal and ask if they got the oven chips from Markies.

You can’t leave straight after the meal either to go home and relax but, chided by your partner, must take your coat off again and sit around in the “lounge” or whatever it is, listening to everyone trying to sound more liberal than everyone else.

Actually, dinner party invitations dry up when you become single, which is a blessing, as indeed is finding that the traditional evening is now regarded as old hat, with a large majority of folk saying they’d be happy if the host served a microwaved ready meal.

Neither would they bother dressing “smart but casual”, turning up in trackie bottoms instead. Young people worry about using the wrong cutlery or glass, or breaking rules about elbows or which way to pass the Buckfast. As for the hosts, they fear cooking nowadays when everyone’s a critic.

This scuzzy version of a dinner party sounds even worse than the old semi-formal ones. Our advice is as always: remain in your own homes. Never go out. It only leads to trouble, marriage, arrest. A DVD of the original Star Trek will entertain and educate you more than any party guest. You can drink as much as you like, and stick your elbow up your fundament for all anybody cares.

Writes and wrongs

WORST thing about me? All right, don’t all shout at once. Thanks for the suggestions. But, no, it’s my handwriting.

It’s appalling. Truly. Worst you’ve ever seen. People tell me that. It is, of course, a sign of genius, of my brain running ahead of my hand. The other explanation is that I’m mentally ill, but I think we can pooh-pooh that. A-wibble, a-wibble.

Recently, I had to handwrite a couple of letters, or at least cards. The exercise was agony. The end-result had words scored out as they were illegible, even to me. I try to write without joining up the letters but, out of haste, inevitably forget and let fly.

My signature is never the same twice, though always a variation on a cardiograph having a nervous breakdown.

The problem is old. At primary school, having set us a handwriting exercise, the teacher came round, correcting small errors here and there, but being generally encouraging, with even the odd, “Lovely, well done”.

Perusing my effort, she just slapped me across the head. You were allowed to do that back in those days. It helped form my character. A-wibble, a-wibble.

It would be a boon, at least for writing letters, if computer printers actually worked. But, like most decent ratepayers, I gave up on these long ago, after it came to a choice between eating and buying another ink cartridge.

I type these words in the wake of survey findings that a third of children have never sent or received a letter. The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society – the what now? – said the findings were “really sad”.

But, even in the glorious past – ie the 1950s, before everything went agley – who wrote letters as a child? Maybe posh kids. To the Financial Times: “Sir, My attention has been drawn …” And that was just Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Today, I do write to the papers. For a living. But, without a keyboard, and before that a typewriter, I’d be a down-and-out, begging on the street. “Spare some change, sir? A-wibble, a-wibble.”

Beware the Loop

YOU know where I live, right? Out-of-the-Loop. This is never brought home more forcefully than when I read about television.

This week, we learn that the top watched shows were I’m a Celebrity and Strictly. Never seen either. Third was ITV Evening News: haven’t seen it, or any TV news, for years. Fourth was Bake Off. Never seen it. Fifth: SAS Rogue Heroes. Eh? Sixth: Coronation Street. Is that still going?

Never seen The Crown, Gogglebox. Am I missing anything? It’s not as if I don’t watch telly. I do. Every night. Typically, as everyone else was deserting it, I rejoined Netflix recently. It now has an excellent selection of Scandinavian drama, and not just that psychotic Nordic Noir nonsense.

It’s different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Sometimes, I wish I was rowing in the same direction as everyone else. But then I’d end up In-the-Loop. And that’s always sounded like a trap to me.

The universe ‘next door’

Aw naw. Turns out there could be more than one universe capable of sustaining life, as it’s laughingly called. Scientists say evidence lies in cosmic background radiation at the edge of our rubbish universe. They claim the universe “next door” could be more habitable than ours. Given how dreich and smelly ours is, it’s no biggie.

Big brassicas

Aw naw naw, twice naw. The warmer warmer means sprouts, cabbage and kale, the veg world’s axis of evil, are growing to huge sizes. Where do you go to join these nutters worried aboot climate change? Is there a Brassica Rebellion? I feel a need to super-glue ma heid to something.

Cool meteorology

This column has never understood the antipathy to meteorologists. They’re essentially predicting the future, nearly always getting it right on a routine basis. However, a study found folk thought them among the least competent scientists. How predictable. Still, at least they weren’t deemed as risible as sociologists and psychologists. They never get anything right.

Buckie up

Buckfast sales in Scotland nearly doubled during the first year of minimum pricing. Part of the problem was Buckfast being unaffected by the policy, unlike cheap, strong cider. So, aficionados of the latter switched to the former. Doubtless, the exponential growth in loutishness has also contributed to sales of the neds’ national drink.

Carping on

Cooked fish may have been the first hot meal eaten by humans. The conjecture follows the discovery in Israel of the charred remains of a carp – dating back 780,000 years. Archaeologists say the finding demonstrates the most significant evolutionary advance, until the invention of chips 779,999 and a bit years later.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.