She said: “I had to phone you when I received this invitation because I immediately thought of you. Of all the people I know, I’m sure this will be a dramatic turning point in your life.”

When a friend calls to tell me this, I am interested; I’d go so far as to say I am very interested. What could it be? What unforeseen invitation has placed itself on my life path to forever alter my destiny?

Before I even hear what it is, I start recalling the predictions various psychics have made about my future.

“There will be a dramatic turning point in your life,” the various psychics have said. “You will look back to this point in complete astonishment as to how your life suddenly changed. It will happen quickly and it will happen about a year from now.”

Psychics always say ‘about a year from now’. About a year from now you will be happily married to your soul mate. About a year from now you will have a career change that will bring you international fame and fortune. About a year from now you will be living in a beautiful new home at the sea.

I can’t say any of the predictions have ever come to pass but hope springs eternal, especially in spring and when I hear my friend speak the magic phrase ‘this will be a dramatic turning point in your life’ – precisely the same phrase all the psychics have used – I forget that nothing they have ever told me has ever come to pass.

“Really, what is it?” I ask, very interested.

“I received an invitation to attend a silent weekend retreat,” she says. “I’ve read all the accounts of people who attended the last one. Without exception they say it was a dramatic turning point in their lives.”

I feel utterly crestfallen. This is not going to be a dramatic turning point in my life because I am not going to attend.

“I’m sorry but I cannot think of anything worse than a silent weekend retreat,” I reply.

“Really, of all the people I know, I was convinced you would respond best to it,” she’s surprised. This makes me wonder how well my friend knows me. Or herself.

What possible fun is there in driving five hours – the silent retreat is some distance away – to book into unfamiliar lodgings in order to not speak for 48 hours.

If I’m intending this sort of masochism, I believe it’s far preferable to stay at home in the familiarity and comfort of my surrounds. Here I can watch DVDs and make tasty things to eat and drink while not speaking.

I might be wrong but I doubt you get DVDs at the retreat and I hate being restricted to meal times.

“They say when you stop talking you start to experience an indescribable, deep inner peace,” she continues.

Of course it’s indescribable. There’s no describing anything, deep or shallow, when you can’t talk.

“How about the food? What do they serve at the retreat?” I ask, trying to be more than a pessimist.

“It’s all vegetarian!” she replies with such enthusiasm I’m convinced she’s phoned the wrong friend since all my friends know how much I like meat.

“That’s part of the dramatic turning point,” she explains.

Not talking while eating brinjals and butternuts. It sounds too good. It sounds like the kind of place you’d never want to leave.

Regrettably I’m a bit busy so I won’t be attending but my friend is dead keen. If you think that driving far to eat vegetables and not talk for two days is the dramatic turning point you’ve been waiting for, please contact her.

She’ll forward you the invitation and the costs – which can’t be much considering what you’re getting.