OK, it was raining, the cafe window was steamed up, so were my glasses and these mistakes will happen, won't they?

Well, they will if you're anything like me. Everyone can recount tales of the occasional embarrassing moment or social blunder, but my life is absolutely littered with faux pas of every description.

My aptitude for cringe-making gaffes was noticed at an early age. Taken for tea at a snobbish and rather affluent relative's home, I remember pointing a chubby four-year-old finger at the silver tea pot and inquiring if it really was silver, "or EPNS like my nanny says it is...?" My grandmother's face may have been red but she made sure my backside was later.

On another occasion, around the same age, I chose what I thought was a suitable moment to introduce a newly-acquired word in my vocabulary into the conversation. It was one of those words, beginning with B, which children seem drawn to like moths round a flame.

Turning to my long suffering grandmother, who was admiring the latest dresses in a rather select department store, I asked her which of the "pretty ......" she preferred. The flat of her hand against the back of my legs told me I'd made another gaffe.

And so it continued through adolescence and into adulthood, embarrassing incident upon embarrassing incident.

Icongratulated a school friend's mother on her wonderful hairdo, only to be told later that she suffered from alopecia and wore a wig.

And being interviewed for one of my first jobs, I was asked why I wanted to leave my current employer. I was diplomatically untruthful at first, then having warmed to the interviewer's informality, confessed that I thought my boss was an "arrogant, aggressive Welsh git", or words to that effect.

"Ah," said the potential boss. "I'm Welsh, too. I also happen to be a Roman Catholic but I take it you don't suffer from religious prejudice as well?"

Actually, I got the job.

Party time, of course, is renowned for the sound of clangers. Mine started well this year. Barely was 1999 a few minutes old than I'd scored my first own goal. My warnings to a small group of females in the kitchen about avoiding the "dreadfully vulgar, chubby man" standing by the french window were not appreciated by them all. Well, not by the one who announced she was his wife.

At another social gathering I spent several minutes in animated conversation with a man I knew but couldn't quite place. "And how," I asked, "is Helen?" "Who?" "Your wife." "Pardon?" "Helen, your wife." "I haven't got a wife!"

Realisation dawned too late. Of course he hadn't got a wife because it was his wife who had run off with the man I mistakenly thought I'd been speaking to.

My all-time favourite gaffe occurred some years ago, however, at one of those ritualistic family gatherings when old photographs are passed round and memories exchanged.

Iwas handed a picture of a dribbling, gnome-like baby hunched in a pushchair.

"That," I said, "is really ugly. Surely it's not anyone in our family?"

"That," said my mother, "is you...."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.