I’ve always wanted to have an ancestry test. It’s a very strong human instinct to want to know where you come from. No doubt that’s why it’s such big business.

There’s something thrilling about the idea that we may not be who we think we are, that all our preconceived notions about ourselves may be entirely without substance. In the US a white supremacist discovered a large chunk of his ancestry came from sub-Saharan Africa and the brittle identity he had constructed for himself was blown to smithereens in a second.

When I took the test (you have to spit into a tube and post it back) I had hoped to find something exotic in my DNA, some Jewish blood or a distant ancestor from deep in the heart of Africa. Perhaps I was part Iberian, the descendant of a mariner shipwrecked on British shores during the days of the Spanish Armada. No, sadly not. I was 100 per cent north western European. This included 82 per cent British and Irish ancestry. What did I expect you may well ask?

But, having looked at various online forums, many British people have much lower levels of 'British and Irish' ancestry than this. Only in the remoter Celtic regions of the British Isles (Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall) is the result usually so high. Southerners have much higher French and German ancestry at the expense of B&I markers which slump to around 20 to 30 per cent in East Anglia. I had more close relatives in Manchester, Glasgow, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear than my native Northumberland. The results showed strong genetic connections to Donegal in Ireland and I was told I was related to some swashbuckling Irish king called ‘Niall of the Nine Hostages’, the man who was supposed to have abducted St Patrick. I also had a second cousin (Cyril from the Wirral) who I didn’t know existed. He will never know I exist. He’s dead now.

Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned was that I had 300 Neanderthal variants, more than 85 per cent of customers on the database (still under 4 per cent of my genome).

Most Europeans still carry genes from these extinct archaic humans with large brow ridges, squat, powerful bodies and a susceptibility to depression and addiction.

I suppose that’s the last time I can refer to anyone as a ‘knuckle-dragging grotesque’ with a straight face.