20 OCTOBER 2001, Page 87

Q. My husband has become a trustee of a prominent

charity (or NGO, as I believe charities must now be known to avoid patronising the beneficiaries of funds raised). Last week he and I were invited to dine and spend the night at the Bucking

hamshire country house of the chairman of the board. The atmosphere was fairly formal and elderly. The next morning my husband had to get up very early to catch a plane, and inadvertently bundled some of my underwear into his case along with his black tie. I had planned to wear a Kookai mini-skirt with thick black tights, but was left with only a pair of pale cream. 20denier tights and no pants. Descent to the ground floor involved a sweeping staircase into an imposing hall from where I could hear the voices of the other members of the house party, so I was forced to skulk in my rooms and miss breakfast, giving the rather rude impression that I was 'lying in' until such time as I could plausibly come down wearing an overcoat as though ready to leave. What would you have done, Mary?

0.A.. London SW3 A. Temporary pants can always be fash

ioned out of a plastic bag by cutting leg holes out of the two corners and simply stepping into it. However, a less noisy alternative would have been to line the tights with double-thickness lavatory paper. As long as key 'dark' areas — triangles, cleavages and the like — were screened off, a convincing impression of normal pants would have been given to the elderly eyes below.