REMEMBER being five years old, in your first year at school and accidentally calling your teacher "mum"?

I do - and it was all the more mortifying because it was during a lesson in front of the rest of the class.

I clearly recall the feeling of wanting to slip off my mini-chair and hide under the hexagonal desk when Miss Richards, my reception class teacher, gently reminded me: "Caroline, I'm not your mum, I'm your teacher."

Not that my own mum is any better herself with names.

Whenever she's calling one of us it's a case of: "Rachael. Jodie. Charlie . . . I mean Caroline."

I wouldn't mind but Charlie's the dog.

Come to think of it, her mum - my nana - is the worst culprit of all.

With five children, 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild (two as of Monday) you've usually got time to finish a crossword and go for a swift walk around the block by the time she's reeled off the list of everyone's names before getting to yours to ask if you want a cheese and pickle butty.

But I digress.

Perhaps it's this confusion of figures of authority that has left me with the strange feeling that every adult is a teacher to be obeyed and not challenged.

A common scene in our house is my boyfriend asking me to make a call - to order a takeaway, to query a bill, you know the sort of thing, and I'll say "Can't you do it?"

"Why?" He'll ask.

"I don't know," I'll say. "I just don't want to."

This feeling that everybody older is a figure of authority really isn't becoming in a woman of 28.

It's the same with complaining in restaurants, telling a cashier they've not given you enough change and stopping old ladies "accidentally" queue jumping.

It really is very British behaviour and needs addressing soon.

I don't think I could cope with the embarrassment of calling my editor "mum" by mistake.