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Mary Killen rss

Mary Killen writes The Spectator’s Dear Mary column.

30 August 2014

Q. When someone gives you anti-ageing cream as a present, is that an insult or a compliment? — A.O., Provence A. It is both, but such creams make pointless presents.… Read more

23 August 2014

Q. My neighbour is really lovely and always helps me chainsaw trees. He used to be the herdsman at the farm but was laid off last summer when they sold… Read more

16 August 2014

Q. We have taken a flat in Edinburgh for a month and a young girl, temporarily homeless and a friend of one of our sons, has moved in with us.… Read more

9 August 2014

Q. A scholarly book of great importance to me appears to have gone missing from my library. It was heavily annotated so it is irreplaceable. I lend books all the… Read more

wi

2 August 2014

Q. At a drinks or a dinner party, when very attentive waiters are hovering, I tend to let them keep topping my glass up since the alternative — continuing to… Read more

How can I train my brother to not eat like a pig?

26 July 2014

Q. I live far away from my brother and his family, but went to stay with them recently for the first time in many years. Having supper was like eating… Read more

DearMaryWD

19 July 2014

Q. My former cleaner has now retired and lives nearby. I visit her with clockwork regularity and always enjoy seeing her, but the problem is that although we may have… Read more

beac9

12 July 2014

Q.  We have recently returned from Provence where we stayed the first night with distant relatives. We woke on a perfect morning to sounds of laughter in the pool, so… Read more

sewt

5 July 2014

Q.  My 16-year-old son, who has recently had his first experiences of Clubland, has observed to me, his mother, that men’s table manners degenerate inside men-only clubs. Is this true?… Read more

28 June 2014

Q. How, in a party context, can one avoid answering what used to be called ‘nosey’ questions without being rude? A revered friend counts among his intimates a priest who,… Read more

21 June 2014

Q. I agreed to give (paid) gap-year work experience in my own large garden to the grandson of an extremely nice neighbour. I need the assistance and, in theory, a… Read more

chari

14 June 2014

Q. I am the co-owner of a chocolate business which regularly receives requests for donations of goody bags and raffle prizes. I take a dim view when these come addressed… Read more

stk325080rkn

7 June 2014

Q. A friend regularly hires a stall at a general neighbourhood market in order to sell surplus second-hand clothes and women’s accessories. She recently sold one of her handbags to… Read more

Rictus smiles all round (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty)

31 May 2014

Q. Two acquaintances of mine have somehow inveigled their way into my dining circuit. They are men who, despite privilege and early promise, have made failures of their lives, but… Read more

24 May 2014

Q. My dear English husband has never mastered the knack of timing his interventions in conversation. He hesitates politely, and by the time somebody pauses, his comments are no longer… Read more

17 May 2014

Q. An architect is overseeing some builders at my house. She is a perfectly nice woman but has a maddening habit of lowering and fluttering her eyelids when talking to… Read more

Gossip

10 May 2014

Q. On arrival at a top level dinner, I was surprised to see at the table a woman who, I have reason to suspect, sells gossip as a sideline. However,… Read more

3 May 2014

Q. My sister and I own a popular caravan park which, for 30 years, has given happiness to around a hundred caravan owners a week. Over the past three years,… Read more

26 April 2014

Q. My son was invited, both verbally and via Facebook, to a schoolfriend’s 16th birthday party. However, when I met the girl’s parents at school and thanked them they said,… Read more

19 April 2014

Q. We have just moved into a charming little hamlet in Warwickshire and were delighted to find a bottle of wine and a friendly card to welcome us from the… Read more

12 April 2014

Q. Our son, aged l6, has a medical condition which, although not life-threatening, requires surgery by a specialist to pre-empt it becoming lifestyle-threatening. The NHS waiting list is long. He… Read more

5 April 2014

Q. It’s only April and yet I am being emailed by parents who have already taken charge and are drumming up support for collective year presents for teachers at my… Read more

29 March 2014

Q. I have three spare bedrooms in London and I welcome friends to come and stay. Unfortunately, some of these frequent visitors seem never to have been taught how to… Read more

22 March 2014

Q. I am always making or receiving phone calls which get cut off. When I ring the person back their line is engaged as they are trying to ring me… Read more

15 March 2014

Q. Is there a tactful way to keep one social offer on hold while waiting to see if you have made the cut for something ‘better’ you know to be… Read more