24 FEBRUARY 2001, Page 63

Q. For various reasons I attend a lot of art-gallery

openings. Although champagne is plenteous at places like the Rebecca Hossack gallery in Windmill Street, the throng is often so dense that the glasses to drink it from run out. Others who enjoy a drink will understand that, just as a car will not go without petrol, it can be difficult to fully engage in such an event until the appropriate fuel to drive the social engine has been secured. When told by a waitress, 'We're just waiting for some glasses to be washed up', a mild alcoholic like myself is unsure what to do. Beat a path to the kitchen and wash a glass myself? Help myself to a bottle and drink directly from the spout? What is the solution, Mary?

A.W., London N1 A. John Lewis silverware department supplies a picnic champagne glass by Strahl with screw-off base and stem. Although composed of dishwasher-safe polycarbonate, the receptacle is 'all-clear' and looks identical to the real thing. These glasses, costing £5.25 each, are indispensable where poolside champagne consumption is concerned, and, incidentally, a box of them makes an ideal present for both houseparty hosts and friends living in student accommodation. Well-organised habitués of both East End and West End gallery cir

cuits have the sense to pop a Strahl glass in their bag or pocket before setting out for the evening.