The christmas present I would like to give my mother is a ride in a Tiger Moth from Duxford aerodrome. Her brother Tony was a Spitfire pilot, and she herself was taken up in a biplane in Calcutta in 1934, when she was seventeen. She loved it; but she says she’s too old now and every year it gets harder to persuade her that she isn’t.

Instead, we decided to buy her a facial at “Angie’s” in the High Street. Rejecting as somehow tactless their “anti-ageing treatment”, we ended up with the standard hour-long treatment. It is marketed under the quintessentially Essex name of Flashé Beauté. We may no longer be able actually to kill foreigners, but let them dread what we do to any of their accents that fall onto our hands.

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