19 JANUARY 2002, Page 59

Q. I find myself on the horns of a dilemma.

My wife and I were staying with a friend two weeks before his wedding day. He had very kindly invited us because his country house is very near where another mutual friend of ours was himself getting married that weekend, and we all attended the wedding together. Upon leaving the reception, my host suggested that it would be better if he drove my car back to his house as he knew the way much better. Once at the wheel, he drove at breakneck speed along the country lanes so that we would be back in time for his 5.30 p.m. appointment with the vicar. We then enjoyed the rest of the weekend at his house, and, two weeks later, his own spectacular wedding and reception. A week into my friend's extensive honeymoon, a nasty-looking letter arrived at my house informing me that my car had been

photographed doing 47 mph in a 30 mph limit at 5.20 p.m on the day of the first wedding in a village near his house in the country, and that I would be getting three points on my driving licence, along with a hefty fine. There can be no doubt that it was my friend, not I, driving at that time: the memory of the veering curves and swaying car as we hurtled along the narrow roads to his house is still very clear. However, in light of his close friendship and more than generous hospitality, coupled with not wanting to mar his return from the honeymoon with this bad news, I find it hard to tell him to take responsibility for the charge. Nevertheless, my licence is already burdened with three points, and, while I live in the UK full-time, my friend lives abroad and is seldom in this country. Mary, what do I do?

Name and address withheld A. Clearly your normal judgment has been clouded by considerations of bonhomie and sentimentality, as well as by a sense of indebtedness for hospitality as yet unrepaid. Simply put the ball into your friend's court by forwarding the letter on to him with a note enquiring. 'How do you think we should tackle this one?!' He can hardly do anything other than the decent thing.

Mary Killen