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Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I protect my sick husband from his friends?

Plus: how to applaud while drinking champagne, and rock-star etiquette

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

Q. My husband is, in a word, adorable. However, following a substantial brain operation, his doctor has told him that to make a full recovery, he must rest in bed and stay very quiet with no visitors. Unfortunately, he is still sending out texts and emails to friends and colleagues who then get the impression that he is well enough to visit. They turn up at our flat, insisting they will only pop in for ten minutes. but inevitably staying for 30. While it is moving to see how much he is loved, seven visits equals three-and-a-half hours per day. I am not a confrontational person and don’t wish to shut the door in anyone’s face. How can I stem this tide without causing offence?
— C.K., Geneva

A. Let him recuperate instead at a spa-type hotel at an inconvenient distance from Geneva. At the Hotel Royal, Evian, for example, the dreamy days of respite could be supervised by a pop-up local brain specialist and the tide of well-wishers would be put off by the 150-minute round trip necessary for a ten-minute ‘pop in’. Londoners facing a similar problem might consider Grayshott Health Spa in Surrey, which is famed for recuperation and has a properly staffed medical facility too.


Q. Please give advice on clapping. I was at the opening of an exhibition the other day and it was so sad that, instead of the most resounding applause that one participant’s speech deserved, there was only a desultory ripple, because we all had champagne glasses in our hands. Michael Holroyd and his wife were also present and I observed that, even though they gamely clapped their spare hands together, the impact was barely audible. I have run into this problem many times and cheering is no substitute. Not only do ‘Hooray!’ and ‘Hear hear!’ sound a bit silly. They also seem attention-seeking.
— Name and address withheld

A. The correct protocol is to either place your glass on the floor between your feet so you can clap with appropriate enthusiasm, or take it in turns with your neighbour to clap, each one holding the other’s glass.

Q. I have a new boyfriend whom I like a lot. When we were first going out he was very excited one day when he met and had a conversation with his rock idol. I didn’t want to steal his thunder by admitting that this idol is a family friend. Now they are both coming to lunch at my parents’ house and I wonder how I can explain my deception without looking as though I was being patronising?
— Name and address withheld

A. Tell him the truth but reassure him that, now you know him better, it won’t happen again.


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