Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. My mother very charitably provides accommodation to foreign students in London. In general, they present no problems of etiquette, as part of their education is to learn English manners and customs. A particularly taxing problem of personal hygiene and comfort has now gaped across the cultural divide. One of the current students is a young Japanese man. Like many others he regularly receives food parcels from Japan - to which my mother has no objection. However, the content of the most recent parcel manifested itself in the bathroom in the form of an electric-blue furry lavatory-seat cover. (Please understand that it was not placed on the lavatory lid, but neatly fitted on to the actual seat.) We appreciate that in Japan many lavatory seats are electrically heated for the comfort of their users. Some questions do still arise. Whilst it would be churlish to ignore this contribution of a superior civilisation to our lifestyle, we are in some doubt as to how to acknowledge the generosity. Also, one does feel that although the cover is fine now, it will quickly become soiled. In view of this, we thought we might ask him if he would keep it in his room, and only place it on the convenience at his own particular convenience. How can we resolve this without his well-intentioned actions causing him the most acute embarrassment? …

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