Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. I work in the entertainment business and I am often 'invited' to performances of fringe plays in which my colleagues are appearing. It goes without saying that the invitation never includes the offer of a free ticket. Having shelled out upwards of 8, there is a further obligation to buy one's colleague congratulatory drinks after the show and listen to his or her interminable criticisms of the other cast members' performances. It is difficult to plead prior engagements on every single night of the play's run, however brief that may be, so I wonder if you can suggest a way of minimising the cost and boredom without risking a retaliatory boycott of my own performances. A.D., London, N1

A. On receipt of such invitations, ring up immediately in a great lather of enthusiasm and shriek your intention of attending the last night of the run. `It'll be such fun on the last night and I know you'll be absolutely magnificent because you're so talented and so great-looking!' etc. Flattery and encouragement `laid down' in this manner will serve you in good stead when you fail to make the final performance due to a 24hour virus. Your colleagues will feel sympathetic rather than sulky since an ego-bolstering given in advance of a performance rather than following it is often more valuable to those for whom reassurance is the very breath of life.

Q. I have lived in London for the last 30 years and have a large and varied social circle recruited in the main through my work as a critic and novelist. …

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