25 MARCH 2006, Page 53

Q. But why does A.C. of W8 (18 February) ever

answer the door of her (comparatively) grand house in Kensington? It is safe to say that in most Western capitals anyone who, unannounced and unwelcome, knocks on your door or rings your bell is bound to bore and/or endanger you and waste your valuable time. It is quaint to see plays, films and television pieces in which the doorbell or telephone rings and someone instantly answers. I never, ever do such a foolish thing. The telephone is permanently on the answering machine callers are told this in the instructions to leave a message — and all unannounced rings or knocks at the door are ignored. Thus is much precious living-time saved and much tedium and/or danger avoided.

V.A., Paris A. But what about deliveries of presents, flowers and goods from the Boden catalogue? What about old friends who do not have your telephone number but just remember where you live? My own solution is superior. In the case of unwelcome acquaintances, grab a coat and say, ‘How great to see you, I was just going out. Will you walk with me to the Tube?’