They say the camera never lies, but in my case, dear reader, I’m afraid it did until today. The photo that graced the top of the masthead in Country Life for the past five years was from a rather earlier vintage, and unlike Dorian Gray’s portrait, it has remained unchanging while my reflection in the mirror has creased and sagged.

Several friends have been happy to point this out to me, and one reader even wrote in horrified that I wasn’t wearing a tie. I hope all will be happier now. Husbands and fathers may understand the latest cause for my accelerated ageing. Asked by Mrs Hedges to pick up the children from school and look after them when she was away for the night, giving a lecture on cheese, I successfully managed to leave the office early, only to discover on arriving at Petersfield station that I had left the only set of car keys in the office.

With the children spread in three different directions, this was a major problem. My wife’s sheer wonder at my incompetence was only matched by the weary sighs from the children. At this rate, I’ll need to update the picture on a weekly basis.