Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and consequently my joints get particularly swollen, especially my wrists, knuckles and fingers. I am in a dilemma over shaking hands. I would much rather not shake people by the hand because I find it painful but, on the other hand, I do not want to seem uncouth. Nor do I wish to find myself saying, 'I do not wish to appear rude, but I am not a hand-shaker as I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis' and therefore seeming something of a whinger. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that I am a mere 35 years old, with quite a right-on haircut. I look about 27 and people do not expect me to suffer from this condition. What can I do? The problem came to a head this morning when I had had three handshakes by 11.15 a.m., as a result I cannot now pick up my glass of wine until it is almost empty! E.S.G.F., Miles Street, London SW8

A. Few people are immune to the thrills of flattery, so why not bow obsequiously to every man you meet and kiss the hand of every woman? Follow this up with vivid eye contact.

Q. I work in an open-plan architects' office with 50 or so other people. Quite close to me sits an architect who is perfectly agreeable in most things except for his very loud voice, particularly when speaking on the telephone - this excites him so much that he shouts. He is unaffected by the hints and signs with which his colleagues have tried to subdue him. Can you suggest something more effective which will not hurt his feelings? H. G. …

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