Q. Many of our best and oldest friends have done so well they have stopped work. Meanwhile my husband still does a 50-hour week. Our friends must have forgotten what it’s like to have to get up at six because they’re always amazed when we try to leave their dinner parties at a reasonable hour. But the real problem arises when we return the hospitality and they are still at our kitchen table two hours after dinner has been cleared, laughing, joking, saying they’ve got second wind and can I get the cheese out again. Hinting doesn’t work. Last time my husband even changed into his pyjamas and said goodnight. They chuckled as though he was just being eccentric and carried on until 1.30 a.m. We love our friends despite this, and want to see them, but how could we tactfully persuade them to leave our house at, say, 11 p.m.?
— B.F.B., London W12
A. Don’t give them dinner in your own home. Book an over-popular restaurant like the Wolseley, specifically asking for a table which you must vacate by a certain time to allow for a second sitting. Forces beyond your control will bring the evening to a satisfactory early climax and while they go out clubbing or to 5 Hertford Street, you can cheerily make your way home to bed.
Q. A great friend’s husband has taken to posting on a particular social media site his transit through business-class lounges, smart hotels, premium sports matches and sundry eateries. He appears to be oblivious that this may seem vulgar, and it would be socially difficult to unfriend him. Mary, please rule if this is indeed boorish and, if so, advise on how he can be corrected. We keenly anticipate your guidance!
— C.I., Devon
A. Most people know that the point of Instagram (a.k.a. Boastagram) is to curate images in such a way that your life looks fabulous. Anyone with a working brain knows that people’s lives are not always so perfect, but Instagram is a perfect bubble you enter into, like reading Vogue or Tatler, to pretend for a while. It is very possible that this man is posting serial images of his luxury life as an ironic statement on the absurdity of social media. But even if he is taking it all seriously, you must still congratulate him on his superb irony.
Q. Mary, your correspondent trying to escape protracted phone calls with an elderly relative might appreciate this tip. I loved my (late) old mum dearly, but we both hated having to have long phone calls. I would always call five or ten minutes before Coronation Street started. I then knew that she would terminate the call long before I could.
—T.G., Loch Awe
A. Thank you for sharing this useful insight. Readers should substitute relevant programmes accordingly.