Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. During the reception following a fashionable wedding near Godalming last week I was fallen on with great enthusiasm by a man who seemed to know me very well, or at least to know everything about me. He introduced me to a number of other guests as though we were old friends and talked so knowledgably about my work (I am a painter) that, although I learnt his name, I did not like to ask him who he was and where, if ever, we had met each other. For all I knew he might have been a collector, but how could I have found out these salient details without asking the bride and groom who were too busy for me to disturb?

G.B-H., London WCl

A. You should have dispatched a female friend to infiltrate this man's conversational cluster and casually remark to the group in general, `Oh, I believe that painter G.B-H is here. I'm such a fan, do any of you know him?' When the man in question replied `Yes', she could have said, `Oh, how exciting! No, don't introduce me, I'm too shy but how did you meet him?' before reporting back to you with the answer.

Q. We have some charming neighbours in the country who are renting a small cottage near our house. Having enjoyed their company so much around the dinner table, I told them last summer that they must use our pool whenever they wanted to without even asking us. Unfortunately they took me at my word and showed up at the pool almost every day. I had forgotten about the existence of their three noisy children, yapping terriers, etcetera. The upshot was that my husband and I no longer wanted to use the pool ourselves because we found the splashing and screaming so nerve-racking. We are about to open up our pool again. How can I revoke the invitation issued last year without causing offence? …

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