Q. A family of five from Brazil who are close friends of mine are visiting London next week. They have been kind and generous to me in the past so we arranged to take them to lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant. However since this plan was made, in true Latino fashion they have invited four others to join the party, two of whom I have never met. Mary, how can I now a) change the venue to a less expensive option, and b) ensure they do not stray off the set menu?
—Name withheld, Wiltshire
A. I know you are well connected, so why not commandeer a friend’s central London premises and hold the luncheon there instead? In this way, even if you have it catered, you can control the prices. One cost effective measure would be to buy in luxury cold collations which require no cooking and lend glamour, with the addition of UCL students to act as waiters. Explain to your friends that, for the very plausible reason that you have failed to find a good enough restaurant with a vacant table for ten, you will be entertaining them in a private home.
Q. I have joined a wealth management firm dealing with high net worth individuals and families. My boss, who has been very kind to me, unfortunately opts for a huge double Windsor knot in his tie. I fear that such a lack of taste may put off some of our more snobby clients but I am afraid to say anything to him.
— Name and address withheld
A. You might adopt the same démodé fashion yourself for a few days. On day four, report to work un Windsored but wearing a Hermès tie. Tell your boss it was a gift from a snobbish friend who told you that your Windsor knot would put off clients since it really only suits minor royals with beards. Laugh as you recount his ruling, as though it couldn’t possibly be true. Leave your boss to reflect on this intelligence and possibly court some second opinions on the acceptability of the Windsor knot.
Q. I bought a horse from a girl I know very slightly. It was a big wrench for her to part with the horse, but she’d had him for only two years and used him mainly as an emotional crutch during her divorce. Stupidly, I said she could come and see the horse now and then to ease her transition. Now she wants to hang around the stable all the time contributing nothing practical but getting in the way of my efforts to build a relationship with and bring on my horse. How can I ease her out of our lives?
— Name and address withheld
A. Put her to work. There are always plenty of jobs to be done around the stables, so hand her some grooming kits, a shovel and a yard brush and encourage her to keep busy. Either she will set to, in which case you will stop feeling irritated by her presence, or she will stop coming because she doesn’t like getting her hands dirty.