Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. Recently I came downstairs to discover my staff examining the state of my bedlinen. I have taken to using a new aromatherapy oil that apparently leaves a yellow streak down the middle of my sheets. I am very fond of my staff, but the oil is extremely pleasurable. I do not wish to get rid of either. Mary, help me quickly. I have remained unanointed for four days, but the very idea of my staff suspecting me of incontinence is simply ghastly.

A Distressed Gentlewoman, address withheld

A. Hand the most competent member of your staff a bottle of the same aromatherapy oil and the address of its supplier. Then breezily ask her to telephone them, saying that you much appreciate the beneficial effects of the oil, but you have found that contact with your bedlinen seems to result in yellow streaking. Could they please advise of the best method of removing the stains?

Q. I have a friend who writes to me with disgusting details of the births of her numerous offspring. The last letter featured a home delivery attended by the entire family and followed by communal bathing. I am the entirely contented single mother of an only child, but my friend obviously enjoys emphasising what she regards as my pitiable situation with these accounts. How can I ensure that I receive no more of these nauseating outpourings without appearing embittered and envious? C.C., IoW

A. Do not bother trying to deflect the outpourings. Instead, do not open the letters but on receipt give them to a strong-stomached friend who will be happy to filter the unnecessarily forensic details for the key facts of the latest birth and then pass these on to you. …

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