For reasons best known to themselves, the modern woman likes to go to fancy hotels where they can have creams rubbed in. They lie on a bed in a dressing gown, whereupon another woman in a white coat emerges and talks rubbish about a vast number of ‘essential oils’, whose unifying characteristic is that they are not essential at all. Entirely superfluous in fact.

That is what ladies like to do. Perhaps they always have, but only relatively recently have I been dragged into these affairs. I have run out of birthday present ideas, you see. Thus I found myself perusing the online menu, yes menu, of ‘spa treatments’ (which meant something else entirely when I was at school).

I had the option of splashing out on a bladder wrack facial mask with hand harvested seaweed leaf strips, for example, or I could have given my wife an algae complex, which sounded to me more like a psychological condition. Or I could have had someone put hot basalt stones on her back, or throw ‘luxurious marine mud’ at her, or a compendium of other bizarre pagan rituals in the name of beauty.

The thing is that it took me so long to choose something from the menu that I nearly scrapped the whole idea entirely. I put more research into that than I did for my mortgage, and I now know more about holistic worm-poo serums than I do about law, which is my actual job. There was just far too much choice, and I very nearly sacked it off.

That’s the way things are headed. Too much choice. Take electronic equipment, for instance. Before the internet came along and ruined everything, you would go into Reilly’s and say you wanted a stereo. A nice man with a chewed Biro behind his ear would take you to the shelf with the stereos, of which there were three, and pretty much told you which one you were going to have. Then you left the shop precisely four minutes later with a large box and a smile on your face and off to Island Discs to buy Now 11.

Nowadays you spend a fortnight in a large national retailer looking at a hundred obscure plastic shapes that all pretend to be different but are made by the same man in China. You have to go walkabout with a laptop to set off an alarm and entrap a ‘sales executive’, who largely reveals that your guess is as good as his. You then leave the shop and trawl the internet until 3am, looking for one particular obscure plastic shape you saw but at a quid less. And the trouble is that there is always, always, always a website out there that will do it for a quid less, and then another website for a quid less than that – you just have to keep searching, indefinitely. It’s the same with everything. You can’t just slap a bit of paint in your hallway without going through a dozen testers, and by the time you’ve chosen one your floor has gone out of fashion, so you need a few tile samples too. But then the tile samples arrive - 30 of them, delivered from a warehouse in Milton Keynes – and none exactly matches your curtains so you give the whole enterprise up and sit yourself down in front of the telly.

All you need to do is find one thing to watch out of 310 channels. This should be easy. It is not. In the 80s our TV remote had six buttons, numbered one to six, and two of those were redundant because there were only four channels. But telly in those days was more honest - in the daytime, if they’d already shown Why Don’t You, they just admitted they didn’t have anything else to broadcast and put up a static picture of a girl and a blackboard. At night, once the A-team was over and Jessica Fletcher had declared who the murderer was, they just played the National Anthem and told you to go to bed.

It’s a good job I got my wife that present because if she left, I would never be able to choose her replacement. Unmarried people these days cruise dating websites swiping left and right in the manner of schoolboys flicking through their friend’s Panini sticker swaps. They’re always thinking that the exact match of their dreams is awaiting them in the next photo. They go through a good few testers, too (I’m told) but find themselves addicted to the same imaginings of perfection that sends golfers out day after day of hacking in the rough. Growing numbers of Japanese have abandoned dating humans completely and just make up imaginary husbands and wives in virtual, ever-expanding online worlds. So I’m starting to see the benefits of a sort of luddite communism at this rate. I’m starting to see the benefits of a world where you get into your Model T Ford (any colour so long as it’s black), go into ‘the’ shop in ‘the’ town and buy ‘the’ one example of the item that the shop stocks at ‘the’ price that everyone pays.

Otherwise, in the future, we will all sit cowering in our houses surrounded by curtain samples, caught in a vortex of indecision, and madly rubbing essential oils into a computer screen.