Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. Occasionally I am queuing at a cash desk behind a woman and the cashier says, `Are you with this lady?' In a sense I think that it's not their business as I shall obviously present or not present some goods to pay for, but what would be the best answer? 'I should be so luck/?

B.J., Vincent Street, London SWI

A. 'I should be so lucky' or `Sadly not' smack of insincerity. Yet you can add to the gaiety of nations by replying `Not yet' or `No, I'm afraid I've got a terrible old harridan at home.'

Q. For 30 years I have had a great friend with whom I have played cricket and golfed, holidayed and exchanged hospitality. His wife and mine are great friends, she is godmother to one of our daughters and vice versa. Unfortunately, my friend has become increasingly embarrassing and intolerable due to his drinking habits. The last three times when staying here he asked me to go to the pub at 11 a.m., helped himself to a gin and tonic as soon as he got back, asked if he could help himself to whisky at 6 p.m. and then went on drinking after dinner, consuming the best part of a bottle of wine on his own when I and the rest of us were more than ready to go to bed. It is not the expense to which I object since I happen to be in the wine trade. It is the new behaviour towards his wife, whom he openly abuses, and my wife, who sometimes stays with them when she goes to London. On the last occasion when I remonstrated with him he turned around and said, `Oh f______ it!' Since when we have not spoken. Obviously this is out of character for a man who once prided himself on his gentlemanly behaviour. Have you got any suggestions as to how I can go about mending fences without repeating the situation I have outlined? …

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