"Don't put it down, put it away." It was the late Tom Fairclough from whom I first heard this, a character it's impossible to forget. From Lancashire, he came to Cheltenham with Rosina, his wife, and a large number of lovely children. He nursed Rosina throughout her long illness - she died of cancer in the late 1970s - and brought up his family whilst still working full-time; until he himself contracted cancer and died, a decade or so ago.
"You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth - use them in proportion," could have been another of Tom's injunctions. I thought of it on Wednesday evening as we were dining with old friends, all thoroughly familiar with one another, but not giving each other time to develop a point, unless it was shouted.
What about a different sort of dinner party, I wondered? One where individuals had up to five minutes to speak uninterruptedly about any subject they cared to bring up, however controversial. Then that subject could be discussed for as long as the discussion stayed on the subject. If the discussion strayed, then someone else would take over the solo input role.