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Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Your problems solved

24 February 2010

12:00 AM

24 February 2010

12:00 AM

Q. New people have moved into our terraced street and made themselves very popular. Prior to their arrival everyone kept themselves to themselves in the typical London manner, but now there is a lot of what my husband calls ‘Coronation Street activity’ led by this very social, very community-minded couple. They are definitely a force for good, but my husband bitterly resents the threat to his privacy when one of them suddenly knocks on our front door out of the blue with something like Neighbourhood Watch news. No one other than the postman has knocked on our door (without ringing first or being invited) for 20 years until these new people came. Although the other neighbours clearly love it, we do not. We find it intrusive. How can I, without seeming stuck-up, tactfully ask them to stop suddenly knocking — but to ring us up if they have some news or other neighbourhood business to discuss?

J.B., London SW11

A. Next time one of them knocks, go to the door and peep around it whispering mysteriously, ‘Can I telephone you in 20 minutes?’ In 20 minutes ring up and apologise for the delay, confiding that you and your husband have begun to do meditation, adding ‘But I’m totally free now. Do say why you called.’ Exchange some cordial words as you listen, then say that, by the way, your teacher has told you it is important not to have your concentration broken during meditation. In future could they possibly ring your landline, rather than coming round? In the event that you are meditating the call can then be picked up by the answerphone and you can ring them back when you are finished. In this way you will feel less phobic about these neighbours because you will have guaranteed breathing space before having to deal with them.


Q. May I pass on a tip to readers? In recent years I have been finding it very difficult to drive at night because of the glare of headlights. However, when you go to see the film Avatar, you are given 3-D glasses to watch it through. These are yours to take away — and at £13 a seat in Kensington Odeon I should think so too. I find that if I wear these glasses while driving at night I have no problem at all with headlight glare. Perhaps others with this problem might like to experiment?

N.M., Stanton St John, Oxfordshire

A. How kind of you to submit this tip.

Q. I am 16 years old. I did not go anywhere at half-term, but three of my best friends went skiing in Verbier together. When we get back to school I am sure I will hear that they had a fantastic time. How can I make it seem like I am not hideously jealous of everything they mention?

P.W., Marlborough, Wiltshire

A. There is no need to conceal your feelings. Instead you must make it absolutely clear that you are jealous, although not resentful. Part of the point of being 16 and going skiing in Verbier is to make other people jealous and it is the left-behind schoolgirl’s duty generously to encourage these feelings of superiority in her friends. They will return the favour when something enviable happens to you. Later on, in adult life, one is denied the pleasure of what is called ‘crowing’. By that stage you have to play down good fortune for fear of promoting unhealthy envy and bitterness among your besties.


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