Q. For ten years, I have made a reasonable freelance income working from home. During this time my husband has gone out to an office to work, leaving home in the early morning. Now my husband has announced that he is going to retire and will be at home with me all day. I feel guilty and disloyal saying this, but the truth is it means the end of my reasonable freelance income. Our marriage has been great for many years but I know it won’t survive this kind of annoyance. My husband just chuckles and says I am being neurotic and must learn to be more tolerant. I can’t afford to rent an office anywhere near where we live.
— B.B., London W11
A. Don’t feel guilty. No woman wants her husband or partner at home by day. As the adage goes, ‘For better, for worse, but never for lunch.’ Fortunately the solution has arrived — a very new sharing economy marketplace, www.vrumi.com, can grant freelance women (and men for that matter) the mental privacy necessary to work when annoyances inside their own home would make progress impossible. The idea of the service, which is currently London-only but likely to go nationwide, is to make use of all the empty rooms in people’s houses which lie unused by day. Rooms start at £30 a day. In such an office near your home, you can enjoy the conditions you need to promote productivity and, moreover, you will save even more money by sidestepping the need to divorce your husband. Meanwhile, with any luck the presence of a stranger in his house by day could make him self-conscious about loafing around and prompt him to seek fresh employment.
Q. I am about to start planning my son’s 21st, but he tells me that 48-hour celebrations are now the norm for his age group and I will have to hire the marquee for at least two nights. Can you give guidance on this, Mary? I would not want to breach etiquette by failing to return hospitality to the same measure as other parents.
A. Two-day 21st binges have indeed become, if not ‘the norm’, then certainly commonplace — but they are far from desirable. Indeed, those parents who preside over such escalations could be deemed to be the ones to have breached etiquette. The health of so many junior guests is compromised by unnecessary excess, particularly if the party takes place during the winter months. In addition, many of these two-day binges are linked to the use of certain drugs that require a 48-hour cycle to maximise on the so-called peaks. Steer a wide berth and restrict celebrations for your own son to the traditional 16-hour binge starting with drinks circa 7 p.m., dancing till dawn and then breakfast. Your son and his friends are only human and will be quietly grateful to you.