11 OCTOBER 2003, Page 79

Q. How can one avoid the 'Esq' on an envelope

when writing to inappropriate people? I have a new friend (in his fifties) who does not hail from the Esquire classes but who is very aware of these things. He is a single man and I suspect he will see it as a social slight if I don't add the honorific when writing to thank him for the dinner he has invited me to in a couple of weeks. It may seem a Pooterish question, Mary, and I don't want to hurt his feelings, but it is a matter of principle at stake.

Name and address withheld

A. Simply write the name close to the top right-hand corner of the envelope. Then stick on a stamp large enough to obscure the Esq' as if it had been there in the first place.