Q. When an invitation to shoot arrives in the autumn, I have a sense of both excitement and dread. The dread is because at the end of the day, metropolitans request that the guns must each tip to the gamekeeper a sum far higher than would be the norm for traditional country folk. Indeed, in a ritual of trumping one another they often double the going rate. The shoot owner rarely intervenes since he is obviously keen for his keeper to receive as much as possible. It leaves someone like me (I am 20 and without a City salary) in an awkward situation. Either I put myself very much out of pocket or I reject the demands and risk seeming tight in front of the rest of the party. Which should I do?
— Name and address withheld
A. Over-tipping is vulgar, and you should pay no attention when your fellow guests suggest it. There is a well-known story of a shooting guest who, when the other guns suggested an outrageous sum, replied: ‘For Christ’s sake, I want to tip the man, not f*** him.’ The going rate is about £30 for the first hundred birds in the bag, and a further £20 for every additional hundred birds.
Q. May I pass on a tip to readers? On Sunday 18 September I travelled from Edinburgh to London following a party in the Borders on the Saturday night. My wife and I were dismayed to find there was no hot food on board the Virgin train despite the fact that we were in first class. The train then took an unexpected deviation via Carlisle, which meant that having boarded the train at around 3 p.m., we would not be arriving in London till around 11.30. What about supper? Learning that the train would be stopping at York and on what platform, I googled pizza delivery near York station and found a Papa John’s. I managed to persuade the man to deliver to Platform 3, Coach M. The key to accomplishing such a feat is to ensure there are no barriers to the platform in the relevant station.
— M.B., London W11
A. Thank you for sharing this helpful story.
Q. A good friend of mine and I visit the same optician’s. At the start of the summer I purchased a new pair of spectacles which my friend admired when we met up for dinner. We saw each other again this week for the first time since term began again (we’re both students) and I saw he had bought himself an identical pair. He maintains he didn’t realise, but how could he not when they are quite distinctive? I know the optician’s has a refund or exchange policy — should I pressure him to use it?
— Name and address withheld
A. Some might assume the quick answer is ‘get a life’ but others will sympathise because at your age, these distinctive spectacles may well be signalling some sort of statement of identity. Take your own pair back for an exchange.