11 DECEMBER 2004, Page 71

Dear Maly

Q. In Scotland the Celtic tradition favours the female line (hence hereditary titles passing to daughters in the absence of an immediate male heir). In my opinion it would therefore he entirely appropriate for G.C. (4 December) to wear his wife's tartan at a reeling party, provided (as stated) it is worn with respect. Highland dress and Scottish country dancing make a colourful combination, but if your correspondent has further reservations I suggest he might consider acquiring a pair of tartan trews.

Roddy Martine, Edinburgh A. There is logic in your argument. However, my straw poll of Scottish noblewomen with English hasbands revealed that the majority would be horrified if their husbands dressed in a kilt. Nevertheless the daughter of Lady Sahoun, chief of the Erasers, has an English husband who has embraced the style. No doubt he would take the view, If it's ine it's Lady Hesketh, herself an expert on tartans, has brothers who wear tartan trews and observes, 'It all depends on the arcs. '

Q. Every morning after I have dropped my son at his nursery school I stop at a local bakery and buy a chocolate croissant to eat as I walk the rest of my way home. Despite the fact that I have been doing this every weekday morning for something like 12 weeks, the assistant behind the counter always asks, 'Anything else, Sir?' as she wraps the croissant up. I have tried requesting my croissant by saying. '[just want one chocolate croissant as usual' or 'Just the one chocolate croissant', even holding the precise coinage in my outstretched palm as I make the request, but nothing seems to get the message across. I am driven almost mad. Mary, how can I stop her from asking ill want anything else?

A.B., I.ondon W8

A. Go up to the counter; look the girl in the (ye and enunciate slowly and emphatically, 'Is it all right if! don't have anything else other than one chocolate croissant?' This should put an end to the nuisance.

Q. We have sonic very good Portuguese friends, whom we like in small doses, who have invited themselves on holiday with us. It went like this. The woman said, via email, 'What are you doing for the hols'r [told her of our plans to stay in the only hotel in Goa. She enmiled back, 'How great, can we come?' Not concentrating and in the middle of writing cards, I entailed back, 'See you there.' Now she emails back to say she has hooked flights and rooms. I never dreamt she would take me at my word. My husband is furious, not least because they have twins who stay up far ton late and will require a lot of our nanny's precious time. What can I do, Mary?

B.W., London SW3 A. Think of the most obnoxious people you know in common. Email back saying 'Feel really guilty did not tell you the Cocklefon' Sobberfords may he coming too. Do cancel if you can't face the thought of them.' If they do not cancel you must make the best of your mistake and use the already spoilt holiday to work off some other crashers about whom you feel guilty. Indeed, why not invite a whole payload of people you don't enjoy the company of and work them all off at once? It is the season of goodwill, after all