Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved

Article excerpt

Q. My super successful son kindly gave a birthday dinner party for me in a glamorous London club. I have never used scented candles -- I worry about the fire risk and, more recently, about the alleged particulates. No scent beats fresh air. So what should I make of the fact that when I unwrapped my presents the following morning, I found that 20 out of the 50 were scented candles? I am not the sort of person who takes offence, but are my friends trying to tell me something?

-- Name and address withheld

A. Since you don't have to rip off the packaging in front of the donor, candles are perfect for regifting. Many women stockpile them as back-up presents. No doubt your friends intended to shop for something more bespoke but found on the day of your dinner that they had no time. Better to bring a scented candle than to arrive empty-handed, they will have thought. (Some candles are worth £50.) Rest assured that they were not trying to tell you something. There is no need to take offence or be disappointed, since you can regift them yourself. Each candle will eventually end up with a genuinely grateful recipient.

Q. A friend has asked me to write on his behalf. He recently held a large party at his seaside house on the south coast. A mutual close friend, who also attended, and who has a thriving marquee and yurt business, said: 'I'll let you have a tent.' To my friend's surprise, a week later he received an invoice for £150 plus £50 for alleged damage, plus VAT. …

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