27 JANUARY 2001, Page 83

Q. For those who sympathised with Theodore Dalrymple's complaint (*Don't

call me Theo', 16/23 December) about the overfamiliar use of first names by virtual

strangers, I offer this possible course of action. On a recent retreat to a health farm, my companion (my mother) adopted an entirely new name, announcing at our first fitness class — to my great astonishment — that she was called 'Julie'. This apparently eliminated any aggravation she felt at being on first-name terms with these friendly but entirely unknown people — mostly far younger than herself. I'm sure you would endorse this most harmless of deceptions.

L.P., Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire A. Indeed, thank you for submitting it.