22 JUNE 2002, Page 71

Q. At this time of the year I find myself

invited to three or four drinks parties a night. Bearing in mind the travelling time between the parties, what is the drill about which one you should go to first? (Literary London is torn, for example, by the fact that the publisher's party to launch Candida Lycett Green's forthcoming book. Over the Hills and Far Away, is being held in Kensington at the same time as your own dear publication's summer party will be taking place on the other side of town.) P.B., London SW7 A. The only firm protocol on the subject of these summer parties is that it is undignified to be still at a commercial party after 9 p.m. unless you are a close friend of the writer, artist, chairman of Sotheby's or other who forms its focus. As for the order of precedence, if you wish to overlap with bigwigs, be guided by the fact that bigwigs tend to turn up early and then leave, their motivation being primarily to make an appearance rather than to enjoy. Therefore, go first to the parties likely to have the greatest bigwig payload. Go last to those parties where the foodstuffs served are likely to be substantial. Guests will linger longer where their hunger can be kept at bay. Equally, go last to those parties with unpompous hosts, They will be more indulgent about guests overstaying their wel come. If you have more than two parties on the same night, then the important thing is to book an Addison Lee chauffeur bike (020 7720 2161). For roughly £20 per job or .E40 per hour, you can be whisked through London — helmet, complete with intercom linking you to the driver, provided.