Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 1 November 2012

Q. I cannot help but notice an alarming prevalence of disturbing eating habits among the middle-aged. Being 13 years of age complicates the matter as I feel it is not my place to comment on horrific table manners. I dread those moments when the vile sounds of those enjoying their gluttony penetrate my eardrums and, in the words of Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited, make my ‘bowels shrivel within me’. How may I remind my elders that, contrary to popular thought, manners are not dead but are central to civilised life?
—T.S., Sydney, Australia

A. While many readers will share your sentiments, most would agree that any sort of pompous attempt, by someone of 13, to discipline co-dining elders would be entirely inappropriate. Instead why not follow the example of most of your peers and block out reality by preventing the sounds reaching your ears? This need not be with earphones. Wax sleeping cones will serve to muffle the horror while you are sitting at a table, but should still allow you to continue to hear and respond to conversational overtures.

Q. In my own country I was becoming well known as an interior designer before I moved to London. My first client here is friendly and welcoming. She says she will get more clients for me through her high profile and her social networking. She says she will tweet photographs of parts of her new house as they are completed and credit my name. My problem is that I do not want these credits, because my client has interfered substantially with my vision, and though that often happens, the result is not representative of my own work. How can I tactfully discourage the misleading accreditation of these images without giving pain to the kind client?
—Name and address withheld

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