Sir: As one of the lucky people to grow up in a healthy and stable family environment, family meals and dinner parties formed a strong part of my growing up and my education. Some of my happiest memories are of long evenings with friends or family sitting around a dinner table talking about everything from the weather to politics. Admittedly, I don't think we put the world to rights and the majority of the time we agreed to differ in our views. None the less, it gave us a chance to air our views in safe and sociable surroundings and, as a result, I feel pretty well equipped for anything that might be thrown my way.
With so many distractions in life, having a sociable meal in a congenial setting provides a calm haven in which to get one's thoughts in order. Forget clinging to our dinner tables like survivors of a shipwreck clinging gamely to our rafts, we are standing proudly at the helm of our tables ready to face whatever life throws at us.