Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. Last year, a woman friend leaving for town agreed to a neighbour's request for a lift as she was rushing for an appointment. My friend, an unreformable Antipodean, almost immediately lit up, as was her wont. Her passenger fluttered her fingers disapprovingly and said, `Oh, no smoking please.' Now, Mary, I know what my response would have been, but my friend was properly brought up and compliantly stubbed out the cigarette. However, it still rankles. What should her response have been?

A.C., Galway, Ireland.

A. She should have continued to blow out plumes of smoke while laughing goodnaturedly, then say, `Do you know, I was concentrating on the road just then and I thought for a moment you'd said, Don't smoke. And I thought, Oh no, she's telling me I can't smoke in my own car when I'm giving her a lift and I can't do this journey without my fags and I'll have to drop her at a bus stop and it's all going to be so embarrassing. But then, phew! Of course, I realised you'd just been saying you didn't smoke yourself! So, no problem after all.'

Q. A friend of mine has written a hilariously funny book. So far he has had only two small reviews which he fears will have been barely noticed, having been swallowed up in the tidal wave of Christmas Books. He is frustrated by the knowledge that one of the country's foremost humorists has been commissioned to do a 1,000-word review for an important weekly, the appearance of which would ensure the book's success, but insider knowledge tells him that she will need a whip cracked over her to get her review done in time for Christmas sales. …

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