Mary Killen

Mary Killen writes The Spectator's Dear Mary column.

Dear Mary: What’s the polite way to dodge sharing a sleeper carriage?

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Q. Next month, four of us from university are going up on a wildfowling trip north of Inverness. We are…

Clothes moth beside green button of a green shirt

Dear Mary: my father mustn’t find out my wardrobe’s full of moths

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Q. My father has been on the warpath to eradicate Tineola bisselliella, the common clothes moth. He told me to…

Businessman fixing tie

Dear Mary: I am treating friends to lunch, but they keep inviting others

8 October 2016 9:00 am

Q. A family of five from Brazil who are close friends of mine are visiting London next week. They have…

Dear Mary: what do I tip a gamekeeper?

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Q. When an invitation to shoot arrives in the autumn, I have a sense of both excitement and dread. The…

Dear Mary: How to keep your guests from too many toasts

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Q. How can I tactfully request that well-meaning old friends stop toasting my (new) husband’s hospitality? It seems ungrateful but,…

What to do when a beast monopolises your fascinating neighbour at dinner

17 September 2016 9:00 am

Q. At a recent party I was delighted to find my hosts had put me next to one of their…

Was it superstition or snobbery that kept our carer from a table of 13?

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Q. We recently stayed for a Saturday night with an old friend and were warned before we arrived that my…

Luxury villa

Dear Mary: How can we stop our holiday home housekeepers’ wild parties?

3 September 2016 9:00 am

Q. We have a heavenly house in Corfu where we go as often as possible. The best thing about it…

How to cope with two groups of friends in one corner of Greece

27 August 2016 9:00 am

  Q. We have been invited to stay with a generous friend in Greece. Now we hear from other (slightly…

Dear Mary: How can we stop people giving us wedding presents we don’t need?

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Q. My partner and I have been living together for 26 years, but now that he’s asked me to marry…

Too many internet deliveries? Befriend an elderly neighbour

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Q. I live in Balham but work in Mayfair. Twice recently I have had to take whole days off work…

Dear Mary: Every summer I go abroad when what I want is to stay in England

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Q. Every summer, just when England is at its loveliest, we have to pack everything up and make a stressy…

Dear Mary: On being an unappreciated patron of the arts

23 July 2016 9:00 am

Q. Since my husband began to appear in the Rich List he has become much more popular with ‘artists’ in…

Dear Mary: what to do with a dinner guest who attends only to her phone?

2 July 2016 9:00 am

Q. The setting was dinner for 16 at one of Europe’s most civilised houses. Sitting on the right of the…

Dear Mary: Would it be kinder NOT to give a homemade wedding present?

25 June 2016 8:00 am

Q. A friend’s daughter is marrying soon. She and her husband-to-be, both art-lovers, have dispensed with a wedding list, instead…

Dear Mary: the thorny issue of a toddler playing music on a phone

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Q. My daughters and I were recently taking our seats on an aeroplane. From behind us came the recorded refrain…

Dear Mary: Is it naff to circulate an advance list of dinner-party guests?

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Q. When going out to dinner I’ve found some people will send everyone a list of the other guests so…


Cull your friends: how a Japanese decluttering technique can give you a manageable social life

11 June 2016 9:00 am

With more chums than she can ever possibly see, Mary Killen tries casting them adrift using the Japanese ‘KonMari’ decluttering technique

Dear Mary: What can you do when your new neighbours stiff you on a restaurant bill?

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Q. We moved recently and new neighbours invited us to join them for dinner at a nearby restaurant. I planned…


Dear Mary: Is it OK to ask to drink the wine you brought to a dinner party?

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Q. What is the etiquette regarding asking to drink the wine you have brought to a dinner party? The man…

Dear Mary: why have all my friends given me scented candles?

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Q. My super successful son kindly gave a birthday dinner party for me in a glamorous London club. I have never…

Dear Mary: When I woke up at 3 a.m., my dinner party guests hadn’t gone

14 May 2016 9:00 am

How do you persuade your pleasant dinner guests to go home when they will stay into the early hours if…

Dear Mary: My doctor keeps asking me for advice on selling furniture

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Q. I know it’s a gaffe to ask a doctor for medical advice at a party, but what is the…

Dear Mary: How can I angle for a wedding invitation?

30 April 2016 9:00 am

Q. How does one go about getting invited to a wedding? Two friends of mine from university, who I have…

Dear Mary: how can my friend make her husband wear his hearing aids?

23 April 2016 9:00 am

Q. A friend of mine’s husband is in his nineties. They are a delightful couple but the husband has started…