Dear Serena: Your cut-out-and-keep guide to perfect modern manners

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Dear Serena,

My food therapist says I have to give up coffee because it's unbalancing my chi or something. But I find it really hard to get up in the morning without it. Which of the huge choice of substitutes available would you recommend?

Binny, Southwold

Listen, Binny, your food therapist is probably right, but you have to face this one fact: there is no substitute for coffee, in the same way that there is no substitute for tobacco, alcohol or any other drug. Coffee was invented because the natural human state is one of exhaustion and fuzzy-headedness. I promise, you'll get used to it after four or five years. And don't waste your money on energising teas: they only work by leaving you wide-eyed with astonishment that you are contemplating drinking anything so disgusting. You would get roughly the same effect from eating cockroaches.

If fox-hunting is to be banned, what activity will be open to sportsmen that has the same levels of thrill, cunning and contact with royalty?

Rupert, Cheltenham

Try a marvellous new water sport I heard of recently, perfected by Cypriot villa owners but open to all. It is called harpooning Wales.

I am not a racist, but recently I put my foot squarely in my mouth while giving a speech and seem now to occupy the same territory in the popular imagination as the Duke of Edinburgh. How do I get across to people that I didn't intend the interpretation that has been put on my words?

Jeff, Grantchester

I wouldn't worry too much, Jeff. Give it a few years and another autobigraphy, and you won't have said them at all.

I am 22 and, in the midst of rows, have to move out of my mother's home in a bit of a hurry. I had always thought that I wanted to live in a mixed house, as women get so bitchy when they're all together, but find myself in a position where the two options open to me are to live with a group of women or to live with a group of gay men. Which would you think was the best option?

Vicky, London SW19

Live with the women, Vicky. The gay household may seem like fun, but remember the housework question. In the end, most domestic feuds, male, female and mixed, revolve around this subject. Gay men are generally tidier and cleaner than their heterosexual counterparts, but are, for all that, men.

They will, therefore, bitch as much about housework as women, but will abnegate all responsibility for doing it to any female with whom they are sharing house space.

I am an Indian electrician, and am about to be awarded a People's MBE for outstanding customer service and dedication to charitable causes. This, of course, involves a trip to Buckingham Palace. I keep receiving conflicting advice on how to address members of the Royal Family. Could you help me, please?

Kamran, Bolton

Certainly. You call the Queen "Your Maj" in the first instance and "Ma'am" after that. If you should happen to meet her husband, address him by the title currently most applicable, which, at the moment, is "You Curmudgeonly Old Goat".

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