I ALWAYS feel that I am fulfilling my role as a columnist when people tell me that they agree with ‘most of what I say’.

If they agreed with everything, I could be accused of being bland to the point of irrelevance; conversely, if nothing met with approval then I would clearly be from another planet.

I was accused of the latter last week by a reader who saw my opinions about the halcyon days when our country might claim to be self-sufficient as emanating from the time-travelling television character I played a quarter of a century ago.

Given that I was talking about a time ‘two generations ago’ when we were not completely dependent on imports for our survival, I concede it was a humorous reference, but one the validity of which hinged on what we mean by a ‘generation’.

That depends on the age of the speaker. For me ‘two generations ago’ refers to my grandfather’s generation. He was a child in the 1860s, when imported food played little part in the diet of the majority of British citizens and staple foods were all home grown and produced.

The most important point remains true, I believe. Yes, we have always imported some foodstuffs, like tea and coffee and exotic fruits.

But our former healthy agricultural base has now been diminished to a greater extent than at any time in the past, by cheap imports from countries which either subsidise their food producers or where labour is cheap and workers live in poverty.

I still maintain that we are less able now to survive from the resources of these islands than any time in our history.

Surely that cannot be a good thing. Though what can be done about it now is another matter, I’m afraid.

An import that we could definitely do without is the whole Halloween thing. Yes, I know it arrived in America from these islands originally, but its style of celebration is undeniably a recent American export to us.

I was diverted this week when a friend told me that she had never been visited by trick or treaters before and misunderstanding their invitation had opted for a treat, helping herself to a pack of Maltesers from the hat carried by the bemused juveniles at her door.

If we all did that, it might put an end to this worrying, irritating and very un-British activity.