Now seems as good a time as any to say as little as possible – about anything.

Keeping schtum might feel like the cowardly way out of a fix but it can go a long way towards protecting friendships and avoiding upsetting fall-outs.

“It’s all the media’s fault,” she said in a statement that appeared to have come from nowhere.

“What is?”


The third glass of wine might have had something to do with an unexpected drift of conversation from rearing roses to a threat of firing squad for all guilty journos. Hang on, though. Did she mean all of them?

“Can you be more specific? Which media – social, mainstream, local, national, particular sections of all of it?”

“Now you’re trying to make out I’m stupid. I’m not. And I do blame the media.”

“All of it, then?”

“You tell me! Why won’t you answer the question?”

I hadn’t realised there was a question but well – in testing times, the rough must be taken with the smooth.

Things have gone horribly wrong – or wonderfully right – depending on which side of the dinner table you occupy at the time of entering any discussion with all the red flag warnings of ending badly.

If you sit somewhere in the middle, you’ve no chance.

In times such as these, messengers usually take the first wounding bullets. We can hardly complain. It has been that way since ancient Greek envoys handed over bad news to their leaders. They tended to have their heads chopped off, for obvious reasons... like no guns, for instance. The principle is the same though.

It seemed a shame to spoil an especially succulent Lakeland ribeye with a messenger-shooting episode. But in testing times, I guess we all have to take what comes. Especially media types. And it is, after all, good for the diet since it tends to put you right off pudding.

Longstanding friendships survive spats, of course. They wouldn’t be worthy of their name, did they not. But there’s a tendency for a bad taste to linger afterwards – however delicious the steak.

Temptation is to consider a “Calm down, dear” utterance. But we all know that’s an incendiary idea. Avoid at all costs. It never works.

Be honest, everything’s gone a bit crackers lately. Looking at the mix of options for unquestioning allegiance, it was always bound to head that way. You could have nailed your colours to the mast of a dancing queen, a zip wire flyer, an allotment hobbyist, a shepherd’s hut retreater, a lover of long walks, a loud man in a bad suit or any number of other colourful characters on the political stage. Whatever the choice, it’s fine – it being your own – but I’ll wager you’ll be tempted to shoot messengers who deliver news you don’t much care for.

A bit of a cop-out, eh? But – as was pointed out over dinner – I would say that, wouldn’t I? Saying nowt, or as little as possible, is a cop-out too. After wine, though, it can seem like a safer plan than the alternative. Should have followed the plan. You live and learn.

“I doubt you could honestly lump local and regional media in with some sections of politically agendered national outlets and heavily opinionated social stuff.”

“I don’t look at local media...”

Aye well. There you go. Shooting at messengers while wearing a blindfold is a national sport now. Positively Olympian. There’ll be no downgrading any time soon.

Holding press and broadcasters to account is as important as challenging power. They go hand in hand, so long as both receive equally informed scrutiny. Perhaps they do – as in not enough. Maybe that’s how it all went crackers. A diet of soundbites, tweets and online comments?

Any road, finding avoidance of conflict a pleasanter place, the roses are doing well, thanks; the sun is shining – for now – there’s real life beyond political vitriol... and have you seen the cost of car servicing lately? Friendship is secured again. Agreement is reached. There’ll be no more talk of the stuff that killed an appetite for sticky toffee pudding.

Local messengers are known to have thick skins, when bullets fly. Thickening waistlines require a little more attention.