Cheer up, it's National Eternal Verities Day

In this age of change, as we sweep towards the 21st century and a world of Internet and computers, and away from the simple verities of the 20th century like world wars and genocide, I find that many people feel they have nothing safe and sure left to hold on to.

Here, for instance, is a letter from a reader which says: "Dear Mr Kington, I can sense that, beneath the trendy flash and modish references of your column, you are as much of an arch-conservative as I am. Could you comfort readers like me by providing us with a list of things that never change and which we can keep in mind, especially those of us who have been recently saddened or sidelined by progress?"

Willingly, Mr Portillo. Here is a short selection of the many things which never change in daily life, and which we can always cling to.

1. Large posters for films which tell you everything you need to know about the people involved ("Music orchestrated by William Prankster from an idea by Carl J Krieger") but nothing about the film itself except one of those meaningless cliche slogans: "One of them had to die. Each thought it was the other. Both were wrong ..."

2. Boxes of safety matches which lie around the house untouched until, when you finally come to use them, you find they are no good, either because somebody has filled them entirely with used matches, or because the striking surface has gone too damp to provide friction, or because the heads of the matches are so old they fall off on contact.

3. Tiny sticky labels on French apples saying "French apple".

4. Birthday cards which specify who they are for, as in "The Best of Birthdays to my dearest Great-Aunt".

5. Large, deep puddles which form in filling stations after five minutes of rain in such a place that you never notice them until you get out of your car and find yourself standing in one of them.

6. Orange, red and blue posters standing on sticks in the middle of fields urging you to vote for people called Foster, Chester or Blister in an election which took place months ago.

7. People who automatically pronounce "picturesque" as "picture-skew" even though they long ago gave up expecting people to laugh at it.

8. "You are here" patches on town maps and tube maps, tourist maps and street maps, which are totally worn away and made illegible because many people cannot read public maps without putting their finger on the place marked "You are here" and tracing their route manually.

9. Huge posters which are so obscure that it takes a while to work out what the product being advertised is, and a lot longer to work out the connection.

10. Weather forecasts which are so versatile in their predictions that whatever happens seems to have been covered in the forecast, suggesting perhaps that meteorology and astrology are not so far apart as some of us might think.

11. VCR machines which, when you come to use them for timing a TV recording, are showing nothing but a flickering screen because there has been some recent electrical power cut, which means you now have to set the clock and date again, which means getting out the instructions for the machine, wherever they are ...

12. The piece of card you normally put under the shortest leg of your kitchen table and which someone has thrown away because it didn't look as if it were needed.

13. Cellophane skins tightly wrapped round new tapes, cigarette packets, etc, which look as if they will need a slight tug to remove but which are in fact designed to repel all but the fiercest onslaught with scissors, knife and gun.

14. Serial stories in the press which feature someone called "Little Lucille" or "Young Wesley" in such headlines as "Little Lucille Still in Danger" or "No Sign of Young Wesley" and which mean nothing at all to you if you happen to have missed the first episode.

15. Days which are designated National Days, as in National Smile Day, National Limerick Day or National Correct Signalling Day, though the only sign of this is someone on Radio 4's Today programme saying, "Well, today of course is National Smile Day, so cheer up, James," which is the last reference to it you get for the rest of the day.

16. Snooker, the annual world championship of which seems to come round every three months and to last two-and-a-half months.

A much fuller list of slightly irritating things which never change can be found in your daily paper

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