27 JULY 2002, Page 60

Q. My daughter is going out with a bumptious young

man who, I suspect, is not treating her with the consideration she deserves. Can you suggest a subtle way in which, without coming across as a Victorian father or arousing the embarrassment of my daughter, I can make my displeasure known?

LB., Odstock, Wiltshire A. The current spate of horseflies offers a seasonal opportunity to strike some warning notes. Next time this youth is lolling in your garden, mete out a sudden but fairly hefty blow with the flat of your hand to a selected area of his body. As he reels back gasping, you can say, 'Just saw a horsefly about to bite you, dear boy. Did I take you by surprise? I am sorry.' Then add, wearing a faintly sinister expression, 'I've often been told I don't know my own strength.'

Mary Killen