Magazine article The Spectator

Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Dear Mary

Q. May I offer an alternative solution to the query from Yokohama last week? A 60-year old man wrote that people complimented him on his girlfriend's looks - but in a manner barely concealing amazement that he has managed to attract such a beauty.

When this happens, I would suggest he reply: 'Yes, I agree. And the wonderful thing is that everyone assumes I must be much richer than I actually am.'

N.P. , Winchester

A. Thank you. This complements my own suggested response. Apologies to T.E. of Yokohama to whose letter I attributed the wrong initials.

Q. Where a brown 'Services' sign appears on a main road and no public lavatories exist, I believe that establishments on the site, such as, let us say, Big Cook or MacDougal's, are mandated to permit the public to use their lavatories without obligation. If this is true, how should one carry out the manoeuvre?

Does one pause at the 'Wait to be seated' sign and then whisper; stride past the sign but indicate to staff your intention; or maybe head straight for your goal ignoring all else? And, on exiting, what etiquette should be observed? Do staff in such organisations understand this obligation?

How might one respond if challenged? I look forward to your advice.

I.L. , Hampshire

A. It does not matter whether the staff understand the obligation or not. Head straight for your goal. Simply smile radiantly at any attendant who blocks your passage, so to speak, and nod in the direction of the facility, saying 'Thank you. That would be so helpful.'

If challenged on exiting, beam similarly and say 'Thank you. …

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