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Dear Mary

Dear Mary: my father mustn’t find out my wardrobe’s full of moths

Plus: how to avoid an aunt’s farmed salmon; and can you keep money you found at a hole in the wall?

15 October 2016

9:00 AM

15 October 2016

9:00 AM

Q. My father has been on the warpath to eradicate Tineola bisselliella, the common clothes moth. He told me to sort through my dressing room and administer sprays and pheromone strips. He’s finally eradicated them, or at least that’s what he thinks. In truth, I never bothered to go through my own clothes back in May. When I went to pull out a tweed jacket yesterday, out came a skeletal shell which had been savaged by moths. There is an infestation, he will be furious, and I have no idea how to get rid of them without him finding out I’ve been providing a sanctuary all summer.
— A.J., Taunton, Somerset

A. Clear your entire wardrobe into black dustbin sacks and drop them out of your bedroom window. Conceal them in a friend’s chest freezer for a couple of weeks. This will eradicate all moths and eggs. You can reuse serviceable garments but the rest must be taken to recycling, as even charity shops shun clothes which have historic moth damage. Meanwhile, fumigate your dressing room.


Q. I have an uncle’s birthday supper looming. Despite the fact that we are a fishing-mad family, my aunt serves farmed salmon at this annual event. I know wild salmon caught on these shores is now almost unobtainable but I myself would cook alternative wild fish — wholly sustainable mackerel, for example — rather than ask guests to consume something which has been cruelly reared and filled with antibiotics. I don’t want to seem pretentious but I simply can’t go through with it this year. Please advise!
—P.C., Coulsdon, Surrey

A. Be careful to leave your salmon intact on the plate but mask it with other foodstuffs. After a short while, profess another component of the supper is exceptionally good and go up for seconds. While at the island, slide the salmon discreetly back on to the serving dish.

Q. Please help with a moral dilemma. When I went to withdraw cash from my local bank I found £90 already sticking out of the hatch but no advice note. The bank was closed. After a few minutes waiting around for someone to come panicking back, I took it home with me. I feel I can’t enjoy treating this cash as a windfall until I have tried and failed to source the rightful owner. How could this be done? I don’t want to put temptation in the path of a bank teller.
— Name and address withheld

A. Go to the bank and explain that you found ‘a sum’ of money sticking out of the hatch and have taken it back to your home for safekeeping. If anyone comes back to the branch to enquire whether it has been handed in, they may call your telephone number and, providing they tell you the correct sum and rough time of dispensation you will meet them at the bank and hand it over. If no one does, you may keep it with a clear conscience.


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