Rules for a happy life: never look under a teenager’s bed and never clear out your kitchen cupboard

Dinky jars of harissa, rice wines and things with furry moulds: all stood as testimony to my lack of commitment as an adventurous cook

Recently, the Yorkshire based herb-and-spice company Steenbergs held a competition to find the oldest unused packet of spices in anybody’s cupboard. The winner: a pot of Sainsbury’s pickling spices bought in 1975 for 19p. Clearly we should celebrate such Olympic standard procrastination. I’m sure they were planning to get round to their brilliant home-pickling project, just as soon as they had rearranged the cutlery drawer. But for me that response was overlaid by something else: recognition.

For, purely by coincidence, while Steenbergs was encouraging the nation to excavate their kitchen cabinets, we were also giving our own walk-in larder a clean out. I say “we”. It was entirely my wife’s doing. I was minded to let sleeping condiments lie. Two of my unbending rules for a happy life: never look under a teenager’s bed and never, ever mess with the kitchen cupboards.

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