Magazine article The Spectator

Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Dear Mary

Q. A friend rings every day to talk for hours about her life. While I do not mind acting as a sounding board or counsellor, I feel the whole thing is a bit one-sided, since she almost never asks how my life is going or only in the most perfunctory way. I feel it would be better for both of us if I were able to have some equity in this relationship. How should I gently point out that it would be only polite, to say nothing of humane, for her to show some reciprocal interest in my life?

Name and address withheld

A. Withhold from her all dramatic developments in your own life for a full month. There are bound to be some. Then have a mutual friend approach her to ask for the latest news on one of these dramas.

When she has to admit she knew nothing whatsoever about them, Friend Two can accuse, 'But you talk to her for about an hour every day. How come you didn't know?' This should give her food for thought and deliver the desired result.

Q. I admit to being slightly hard of hearing and somehow an invitation to spend two weeks in Mecca with the promise of lots of sun and sand left me visibly underwhelmed. Not surprisingly, the invitation faded and died but now I discover that the intended destination is West not East. Necker, not Mecca. A grovelling apology might get me back on track but my finances are stretched at the moment. What should I do?

A.J.H. , Gibraltar

A. Never complain, never explain. Ring up to enquire which airline you should travel out on and behave as though you had accepted all along. …

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