Q. My wife and I are enthusiastic dancers so when we heard that people we know through mutual friends were giving a party on a sprung floor at Cecil Sharp House in Regent’s Park with ceilidh dancing and a caller, we were desperate to go. The trouble was, we hadn’t been invited. We knew there was no sit-down dinner to complicate things and logic told us that the hosts would probably welcome additional numbers of willing dancers. I was too shy to telephone them and put them on the spot by asking if we could gatecrash. We are now kicking ourselves for not having been pushy, as our friends say it was a great party and the hosts told them we would have been welcome. How should we have tackled this, Mary?
—Name and address withheld
A. You should not have telephoned in the first place but you should have emailed to say you had heard they were giving a party in the Cecil Sharp building, a venue you were thinking of using yourself as you love dancing so much you are considering giving a party there. Would they be kind enough to report back if the evening is a success and they would recommend it? This would have given these mutual friends the option for them to email back one of two responses. It could be either ‘Do join us, you would be welcome’, or ‘Yes — we are sorry not to be able to invite you to join us on the night but we have already exceeded the numbers allowed by fire regs!’
Q. At the age of 63, I am having some corrective dentistry which means I have to wear wire braces on my teeth of the sort normally seen on adolescents. I find friends and acquaintances have been extraordinarily rude in their responses to the rows of metal, saying things like ‘Isn’t it a bit late for that, old boy?’ or ‘Hardly worth the effort at your time of life’. How should I respond to these discouraging impertinences without being rude back?
—Name withheld, Pewsey, Wilts
A. You should wear a pleasant but knowing expression as you reply, ‘Funnily enough it’s already been worth it. But…’ (staring into their mouth) ‘…more to the point, why aren’t you having it done?’
Q. I believe some people to be using the Brexit crisis as a ‘row creation scheme’: it gives them the chance to express anger (about other matters) that they might usually have repressed. How can we stop our guests from creating a bad atmosphere by starting to catastrophise or triumphalise as soon as they arrive for drinks or dinner?
—V.B., Hove, Sussex
A. Why not take a tip from 100-year-old Arthur Mason of East Yorkshire who, as he welcomes visitors to his house, points out a swear box into
which they will be obliged to pay £5 if they mention the referendum or Brexit?