Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Q. My parents brought me up to write only my name in a visitors' book. However, following a recent long weekend in the house of a friend's father, I was last to sign and found the other guests had all written lengthy gushing tributes to our host. If I didn't follow suit, my own entry would seem unenthusiastic. The upshot was that I compromised and wrote my name and 'thank you so much'. What should I have done?

--N.M., Fonthill, Wilts

A. You should have stuck to your guns and signed only your name. You could have explained to the others that since your predecessors had far exceeded your own ability to express exactly the same emotions, you would have had nothing more to add.

Q. I was walking through St James's the other day with a potential new client when I ran into a business rival. I had no option but to make an introduction and I could see my rival putting two and two together and plotting to poach this man whose name, though not face, is widely known. How could I have avoided this introduction?

--Name and address withheld

A. 'Excuse me if I walk ahead for a moment,' you could have told your client as you broke step and walked in front of him so that he would have seemed like just another pedestrian in your wake. 'Great to see you -- must dash,' you could have told your rival. …

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