Let us suppose that someone, perhaps a friend, member of your family or business associate, telephones you and invites you to join them on a day’s sport, one which you have secretly coveted for as long as you have been able to hold a shotgun.

It might be a day’s grouse shooting in Northumberland, a trip down to Devon for some pheasant, or even a chance to shoot abroad. We’ll say doves in Argentina for the sake of argument. Whatever and wherever, all expenses are paid, all you have to do is get you and your gun to the shoot.

You accept immediately, and, after you have stopped shaking, put the receiver down and fly to your diary.

As the nerves take hold you are all thumbs but eventually you find the right day and take your quill to pen in the details.

Then, disaster.

In red ink, and probably not in your own hand, is written the words ‘John & Melissa’s Wedding – Ludlow’

Your eyes widen and your chin buts the end of the desk, even though you are standing above it. You have frozen and stand in silence for eight minutes before a weak shriek emanates from your throat.

Here’s the problem. John and Melissa are friends from university. The three of you have planned to use the event as an excuse to catch up and reminisce on those halcyon days when you lived on brown bread and beans for three years while reading history, and also a chance for them to introduce you to their friend Imogen, who, from the photographs you have seen, makes Angelina Jolie look like the back of a bus. Word is that Imogen likes the look of you too, and so the wedding is something you have really been looking forward to.

Do you:

a) Come up with the ingenious excuse that ‘an important business trip has come up’ in the region you’ve actually been invited to shoot in, then cackle to yourself as they say ‘that’s a shame – Christmas any better?’.

b) disconnect all telephone and mobile lines, throw your Mac and Blackberry in the sea, and seal your letterbox to avoid any notices of reminder from the happy couple.

c) become overcome with guilt and call your shooting companion to say that you can’t make it and that you hope you haven’t let him down. Wince later in the day when you realise he has invited somebody who you really despise.

d) suggest that John and Melissa move the wedding date or better yet, the location. Adopt a strange look when the phone suddenly goes as dead as your chances with Imogen.