One of the few things I clearly remember about my grandfather is the time he challenged me to divide a wooden matchstick in half lengthways.

I don't remember whether I tried to guess the answer. Maybe I tried and failed, or maybe I was too lazy to think about it; or maybe I could see in his twinkly blue eyes how badly he wanted to tell me the answer, so I gave up immediately.

Anyway, he showed me how. He lit the match, let it burn for a few seconds, then grabbed its smouldering head between saliva-dampened fingers so that he could hold it until the entire length burnt. Then he licked the flattest part of each of his palms and pressed the tiny stick of charcoal firmly between them. When he separated his hands, half of the match adhered to each one.

Maybe he got lucky that day, or maybe he practised the trick his whole life. Either way, every time I've tried his trick (about once a year since he showed me), I've just ended up with a black mess on each hand and a bad taste in my mouth. I'll obviously have to find something requiring far less dexterity to impress my grandkids with.