Living in a society beset by a cult of youth, I take comfort in towels. By which I do not mean that I wrap myself in them or cry into them - I merely note them and feel happy.
For who can deny that towels are pretty awful when young? Certainly at our house no-one wants to go near brand-new towels. We all run screaming from them when they first appear in the bathroom. Even later we hardly tolerate them - they're too coarse, too dry, too unabsorbent. Sometimes, to start with, they actually possess a texture that borders almost on repellent, while even the best of them are pretty unloveable until they've been washed at least a hundred times.
But all of them - even the borderline repellent - improve as time passes. After a few years knocking about the place they begin, gradually, to acquire attractive qualities. And it is age that is the vital factor, the thing that endows them with value. Indeed, the one we all fight over, the one that is the most alluring of all the towels in our household, is the one that still bears my nametape, together with the name of the house I was put in at boarding school, which means it must be no less than thirty to forty years old.
Just reaching its prime, in fact - and towel years need to be double and a halfed, or possibly even tripled, to find the equivalent age for humans. That means I'm really still a baby, barely starting to reveal my true qualities.
As I say, I take comfort in towels.