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Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Would it be kinder NOT to give a homemade wedding present?

Plus: Advice on bill-splitting, snog-splitting and the evolution of asparagus etiquette

25 June 2016

8:00 AM

25 June 2016

8:00 AM

Q. A friend’s daughter is marrying soon. She and her husband-to-be, both art-lovers, have dispensed with a wedding list, instead asking that each of the 200 guests give something they have made. My husband and I are loath to add to the mountain of garbage the young couple will feel honour-bound to find roomspace for. Would it be kinder to come empty-handed?
— M.D., Wiltshire

A. The request may be less naive than you think. It would be well worth storing 198 pieces of grot if, for example, David Hockney and Bridget Riley were to be among the guests and delivering something handmade. Meanwhile you could compromise by knocking up Lego brick constructions. These will fulfil the criterion of being handmade but the bricks can be recycled if and when the couple have children.

Q. May I pass on a tip about restaurant bill-splitting? When having lunch in a gang I always order first and ask the waiter, ‘Can I have my own tab please?’ I explain to my companions that I’m insisting on this because I am going to be eating and drinking far more than they will be. No one objects and no one seems to notice that I usually just have tap water and mozzarella salad.
— Name and address withheld


A. How very kind of you to have shared this useful tip.

Q. Enjoyable wedding yesterday deep in the countryside. I was designated driver, hence sober. I didn’t realise as we were getting ready to leave, circa 2200 hours, that my 25-year-old son was very drunkenly canoodling with a 55-year-old friend of his aunt. Had I known, is there anything I could or should have done?
—M.H., by email

A. Had you been aware, perhaps you might have enlisted another young person to go and find him, calling out his name and saying his father’s car was about to leave. This would have given him a diplomatic excuse to part company if he so wished. If he chose otherwise, at least you could have rested assured there would be no permanent biological consequences.

Q. On a rare visit to London a week ago I saw Jacob Rees-Mogg eating asparagus with a knife and fork. It occurred to me that he may have been doing this to put his dining companion at ease, but I would still be grateful to know if this is now socially acceptable under other circumstances.
—A.M., Beirut

A. Even junior members of the royal family now eat asparagus with knife and fork — probably, as you suggest, to put others at their ease. In any case the rules regarding eating asparagus only with your fingers have been rendered obsolete by the prevalence of the vegetable being served with meat or fish, naturally meriting, therefore, knife and fork.


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