Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 1 June 2017

Also in Dear Mary: How can I make my friends stump up for opera tickets promptly?

Q. I am a member of a well-known country house opera society, and I organise annual trips to performances for a group of friends. We all look forward to these very much, as we don’t see each other as often as we would like. As the member, I have to stump up a large sum in advance for the tickets and then recoup the money from my pals. Unfortunately one of our party pays very late, often leaving it to the day before the performance to cough up his share. I don’t wish to embarrass him and we enjoy his company very much, but I do not wish to keep providing long-term free credit. Can you suggest a tactful solution?
— Name and address withheld

A. Next time, send a round robin urging everyone to let you have their cheques ASAP so you can get the best seats. No need to enlarge on why you can’t front the money yourself as in previous years. Follow this up immediately with a second email to everyone but the offender, saying: ‘Please ignore request for cheques in advance, which does not apply to you as you have an excellent record for prompt payment.’

Q. I recently enjoyed the memoir about John Fleming and Hugh Honour by Susanna Johnston, who met the pair when they were all on the equivalent of gap years and had bed and board in France with the blind critic Percy Lubbock in exchange for reading aloud to him. My own father has recently lost his sight, but unlike Lubbock he cannot offer accommodation in a grand villa on the Riviera to any willing young, since he lives in Watford. His very willing Filipino does not speak English well enough, but she has downloaded Audible for him.

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