Q. One of my oldest and best friends, who has lived up north for years, begged me to let her daughter move in with us as a paying guest for her second year of university in London. The daughter was literally homeless and staying in a Premier Inn. She promised the girl would be good and would not bring friends back. This has turned out to be true. Unfortunately, we had no idea that her classes would only occupy her for two days a week and that the rest of the time she would be present in our flat. How can we ask her not to be at home so much without making her feel uncomfortable or unwanted?
— Name and address withheld
A. Buy in polystyrene cups and leave columns of them next to a kettle in your drawing room. Tell the girl that you and your husband have offered to host meetings for a certain addiction group on two afternoons a week — which happen to be on days when she is not in class and would normally be at home. Sadly you cannot be more specific for reasons of confidentiality, but ask her if it would be possible for her to be out on those afternoons, so that you can guarantee the confidentiality of those attending the meetings who do not wish to be seen arriving or leaving. For that reason it is best if she gives your flat a wide berth for three hours at a time. It is much better for her that she should spend her time in the library or in an art gallery in any case, so you will be doing her a favour, as well as yourselves as you attend your privacy-addiction meetings.
Q. I often give parties in my central London house in a private residential square. At any one time it seems that about a third of the guests are outside the house smoking on the pavement. This is disruptive and my neighbours complain, but my husband is asthmatic and we cannot allow smoking inside. What do you suggest, Mary?
— C.B.L., London W8
A. Keep guests inside by using the solution popularised by tribal marketing entrepreneur Max Mallows who offers e-cigarettes, for example Provog, which cost £4 each. Most people have not tried an e-cigarette until someone else gives them one, but they often like it. Indeed, why not broker a deal with an e-cigarette company and actually sell them to guests in a variation of the Tupperware party? Mallows himself uses Volish, which cost £30 and are reusable, with liquid refills costing £5 every few weeks.
Q. You missed a trick with the reader attending a sporting event, who did not wish to re-use a whistle which had been in someone else’s mouth. The better solution would have been for her to say she always used her fingers.
A. Thank you. This solution is superior. When passed a whistle, use your fingers.