Do you picnic? I can barely recall the last time I went on a proper picnic, if you do not count numerous impromptu meals in remote places in California, Hawaii, Africa, and the Caribbean. One or two such picnics stand out in my memory, however, not only due to the fine company and faintly-remembered conversations, but also to the ritual and accoutrements involved in preparation. The last time must have been more than 20 years ago during my stint working for the Tories in London in the final months of the Thatcher government. One morning a group of us piled into a silver BMW and drove to Henley for the Regatta. We settled in a strategic if crowded spot next to the river and proceeded to tuck into the spread, which as I recall included roasted chicken, sausages, quail's eggs, salads, and Pimm's. Not exactly a scene from Brideshead Revisited of course, but very pleasant enough. Gazing at the photographic image (above) makes me want to fill the hamper, crank up my vintage Mercedes Benz auto, put the mobile LP player on the backseat, and motor to a remote spot on the Northern California coast with my loved one. Our civilisation may be receding at a speed of 190mph, but if we go fast enough we just might be able to enjoy a civilised moment or two before it disappears completely.