I AM writing this in the run up to Christmas, in the hope that Santa will have seen fit to bring me a new pair of slippers on Christmas Day.

My old ones have done sterling service, for they are far more than what used to be called house shoes.

I have to confess I wear them to potter in the garden in the garden as much as I do in the house and they are so comfortable I have been known to go down to the village in them occasionally, much to Mrs Hextol’s chagrin.

And as Peter Kay has noted, I can run much faster in my slippers than in any other footwear I have in my wardrobe.

I believe if Usain Bolt had worn slippers instead of spikes, he would have won even more races before retirement.

But my Marks and Spencer specials may have come to the end of their days, thanks to a capricious gust of wind the other day.

Every so often, Mrs Hextol decides to have a clear out of the mail which we store behind the microwave.

It is a heady mix of junk, scraps of paper with ideas for future newspaper articles, intimidating brown envelopes from HMRC, credit card statements, doctors’ appointments, and inducements from my friends at the garden centre to call in for a free mince pie and a cup of coffee.

It accumulates for several weeks before a purge is decreed necessary – the whole heap is dumped into my lap to be gone through and divided into three piles of keep, bin or shred.

Sorting them all out takes time, as I am never very sure which doctors’ appointments are current, and which bills have been paid so I have to check with Mrs Hextol who still does not seem to have grasped the notion it would be much quicker if she did the job herself.

We end up with three piles of roughly the same height, which have to be rechecked by Mrs Hextol before being despatched to their final destination.

The trouble is, I don’t like using the shredder for the personal stuff, as it takes forever, and the machine often jams, meaning I have to pick out semi-shredded documents from the sharp teeth with a pair of tweezers

Given my fondness for a garden conflagration, I therefore suggest that rather than faffing about with an ineffectual shredder it is much easier for me to have a discreet little fire to get rid of paperwork with minimal fuss

I have a special metal bucket I use as an incinerator, and it is with some reluctance that Mrs Hextol allows me to despatch documents to the fiery furnace.

She complains: “You always come in smelling as as though you have sitting on top of the fire like Guy Fawkes, rather than just burning a few bits of paper.”

But it has always worked well, apart from the first time I did it, and once the smoke and flames had cleared, decided to pick up the metal bucket. It was, of course, red hot, and with an agonised yelp, I dropped it, scattering bits of burnt paper over a wide area of the back garden.

But the latest document burning was even worse, as I set out with sheaf of papers, Mrs Hextol’s candle lighter, and of course wearing my trusty slippers. The burning took place when a particularly capricious wind was gusting and eddying around Hextol Towers and Mrs Hextol warned me not to let any top secret documents get snatched away into the hands of neighbours.

I had a good blaze going,but was a little too quick in throwing in the last piece of junk mail from a clothing company.

A sudden gust lifted the paper out of the bucket, and hurled it at my feet, where it gripped me in a loving embrace.

I danced a lively jig as the flames licked hungrily at my trousers, purchased incidentally from the firm which send the advertising flyer, and here was a sizzle as my slippers started to melt.

Had Craig Revel Horwood and his mates been watching I am sure they would have given me four tens as I stamped and jiggled to douse the blaze, and when I eventually succeeded, my left slipper was in something of a sorry state.

The velveteen sheen had been replaced by a muddy brown smear, which looked suspiciously like dog muck, and didn’t smell a great deal better.