16 NOVEMBER 2002, Page 87

Q. During lunch at the house of some friends of

my parents. I was put between two boys from Bryanston who talked across me through each course as though I didn't exist. I did not take their rudeness personally — in fact. I was quite sleepy that day and would have been quite happy to drift off into a personal reverie had not their voices been quite so loud. What should I have done to remind them to mind their manners?

MG., Fosbuty, Wiltshire A. Wearing a kindly expression on your face, as though dealing with the disabled, you should simply have stood up and moved along one place. Standing behind the offender on your right, you could have said, 'Please, do change places with me and then you can talk to each other without my being in the way.' In this way, you would have brought them up sharp.