Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Q. The other night, as I arrived at the John James exhibition on Fulham Road, I stopped to say hello to an old friend standing outside. We had exchanged only a few words when the man next to him suddenly addressed me in sneering tones: 'Are you having a senior moment?' It is true I had failed to recognise him, though he was once very handsome and I had attended his wedding, but I hadn't seen him in the 20 intervening years, during which time he had gone grey and even grown a grey beard and moustache. How would you have responded to this rudeness, Mary? Don't you agree that he struck the wrong note with this sort of accusatory approach towards someone who was just going into a party?

-- T.D., London W12

A. No reprimand was appropriate. This man was projecting anxiety about his own appearance. You should have turned the other cheek and cheered him up by replying: 'Yes, you're right, I was having a senior moment. I could have sworn you were George Clooney!' (Or substitute the name of another glamorous ageing film star to whom the bearded one has even the faintest resemblance.)

Q. I have signed up with the Telephone Preference Service but still get about five calls a day on my landline from cold callers and assorted smooth-talking criminals trying to get my bank details, all treating me as though I am very stupid and trying to con me. …

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