12 MAY 2001, Page 63

Q. We often have the offspring of friends from Europe

or the old Dominions staying with us while they are in England. They are always charming and courteous with beautiful manners, save for one common failing. They have a habit of walking around the house barefoot, and sitting and picking at their feet in a vacant way which I find truly

nauseating. Mary, whether you print this or not, I am desperate for your advice.

R.H.C., London W8 A. Simply give a tinkling and indulgent laugh, then say, Did you know that in the Middle East the rudest thing you can do is to point the sole of your foot towards someone? I've always wondered why, but sitting here looking at you now, I suddenly understand.'