20 SEPTEMBER 2003, Page 79

Q. While staying in Provence recently, as the guest of

some friends from Suffolk, my host, albeit an Englishman to his core, appeared every evening in a different pair of monogrammed velvet slippers (stags rampant on coronets, HS entwined with stags rampant, etc., etc.). Knowing that his wife (who, incidentally, is a very close friend of mine and was away in New York at the time) does not allow him to wear his monogrammed velvet slipper collection outside Suffolk environs, and certainly not out of the shooting season, I found myself somewhat forced to comment on this fact. I subsequently told his wife, who was quite apoplectic with rage at her husband's excess of bad taste. How can I ease my way around this marital tiff and ensure my place on their guest list next summer?

J.M., Wootton Rivers, Wiltshire A. The wife is right. Not only is it a major solecism to wear initialled slippers in hot weather, it is also inappropriate to wear them 'on the Continent You may have alienated the husband, but the wife is usually the dominant authority in arranging who comes to stay. You need not worry. Seeing you as an ally, she will be keener than ever to have you next summer.