10 FEBRUARY 2001, Page 63

Q. Might I suggest an alternative rejoinder to that suggested

to your correspondent N.A. (Your problems solved, 3 February) when asked at a funeral, 'What on earth are you doing here?' When confronted myself with the same impertinent query at a recent launch of a close friend's book, I was able to put the offender in her place by replying in conspiratorial tones, 'My dear, I'm here for exactly the same reason as you — social climbing!'

A.M., Paris