Q. When going out to dinner I’ve found some people will send everyone a list of the other guests so we can avoid the ‘What do you do?’ questions. I’ve now taken to doing it myself. I like this approach. However, when I asked a friend to tell me who my fellow guests would be at her dinner party, she became very angry and refused. As a result I missed talking to someone I really wanted to meet until we were putting out coats on to go. Is it very naff to provide pre-lists?
J.T., London W11
All guests would much rather know who else is coming, what they do and what the gossip is — but to circulate an advance list is a bit unsubtle and smacks of networking. Instead you can deliver the data chattily by tricking your guests into probing you about who will be present. Ring them up on the pretext of giving, for example, parking advice, to say their dogs will be welcome, or to enquire whether any real or imaginary food allergies are at play. ‘I can’t get through to Gerry Farrell at the moment — he’s coming. Do you happen to know if he’s allergic to anything?’ ‘Gerry’s coming! How exciting. Who else will be there, if you don’t mind my asking?’ Then the chatting can commence.
Q. I am worried that my twenty-something daughters are not meeting enough new men. They both live in London and have plenty of friends, including plenty of male friends. But these they have known all their lives — how can they meet new men who might hold romantic prospects? Neither works in an office.
They sound ideal candidates to organise safari dinners. These raise money for charity. Three separate gangs of six girls organise either starter, main course or pudding. The males move between the houses while the girls stay put and receive, in turn, three sets of six men (or other number). It is a lengthier form of speed dating which allows both males and females to meet new people in a convivial setting. Since one of these parties recently raised £10,000 for a conservation charity, no one can complain that it is a frivolous idea.
Q. I often lose my telephone around the house. Although I have a ‘Find My iPhone’ app on my iPad, it doesn’t say which room. The signal is appalling here so I can’t ring it. Our broadband speed is very low so we cannot use a booster. What do you suggest, Mary?
A.W., Oare, Wiltshire
It is cost-free to set the alarm on your phone to go off once an hour. That means you will always be able to find it on the hour. If you would enjoy having a reassuring American voice announce the time once an hour on your iPhone, you can download the Time Talker app, which costs only 79 pence. Some high-achievers use this as a way of beating their own deadlines.