I picked up this Jane Austen novel in a second hand booksale. I’d just caught part of Clueless on the telly – you know the movie with Alicia Silverstone – and it seemed like serendipity to then come across the book the story is based on.

So I read it. I last read the book when my orchid hunter was born. I went through a Jane Austen phase and read all of her novels and even a biography when the novels ran out. And of course I caught the movie.

It’s not my favourite JA novel but it is still quite charming. The English class system is thrown sharply into focus as Emma compares the various standings of the people around her as only one near the top of the pile can. The manners are charming too. It is hard to imagine calling someone Mr or Miss these days – unless they are a former teacher perhaps, and would anyone really be scandalised if you were to call someone by their first name?

Hmmm well I do still cringe to remember how I addressed the then Prime Minister of Australia once… “Hi Paul” I (dare I say) gushed… well perhaps not gushed… but I was certainly somewhat casual. Hey I was young and probably overexcited.

So apart from Prime Ministers, and former teachers who probably still scare you a bit, and very old people – who else do you address with social title – why I spoke to the Administrator of Christmas Island just the other day (he’s like the governor) and he told me to call him Neil… can you think of anyone?