Magazine article The Spectator

Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Dear Mary

Q. Before going into hospital for an eye operation, a good friend asked me if she could do anything to help when I came out.

I thought this was a very kind gesture but I am now back at home and have not heard a word from her. Should I ignore this as pure forgetfulness or mention how surprised I am by her failure to enquire about my ordeal?

A.L. , London

A. Do neither. Instead make the generous assumption that your friend is following the etiquette of not discussing illness. Guiltmongering usually backfires so simply ask her for the help you need without 'giving an organ recital'. This was the term used by the late Duke of Devonshire for the practice of describing operations.

Q. On the grounds that postage is bound to go up after the election, my husband wants to send out Christmas cards now. Would it be all right to do this, perhaps with notes on the envelopes requesting they be put safely aside in a drawer and not be opened until, say, 1 December?

J.L. , Wallingford, Oxfordshire

A. This would be an excellent way of drawing attention to yourselves or 'raising your profile', as it is known in some quarters. However, no one wants to think about Christmas before November nor to spend eight months trying to remember that something is in a drawer and that they must get it out on 1 December. In summary, this act of economising would end up by counting as passive aggression.

Q. I am a gentleman of 60 and my Japanese girlfriend is younger but over 50.

Like many Japanese ladies she looks young for her age. However, when people meet her for the first time they often later say to me that she is very beautiful. …

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