Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 11 May 2017

Also in Dear Mary: too many friends? Send them a huge and boring book

Q. My 23-year-old son has taught himself to play the piano, learning the theme tune to The Truman Show without lessons. But it is the only thing that he has learned, and now he plays it every time he walks through our hall, driving the whole family mad. How can I end this purgatory without denting his confidence or his enthusiasm for music?
— S.H.,Woodborough, Notts

A. Buy your son an electric keyboard with headphones so that he can develop his potential privately in his own bedroom and hopefully increase his repertoire.

Q. I’ve met too many people and now need to cull some of the peripheral admirers. How can I nip these friendships in the bud without hurting any feelings?
— Name and address withheld

A. Buy a worthy, dense and demanding book. You might try In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations by Jerry Mander (458 pages), or choose a work you know. Send copies to the intended cullees with a note that you can’t wait to hear their detailed response after reading it as you are sure it will confirm that they are very much on your wavelength. It’s likely that your fans will be unable to put in the man hours and will begin to avoid you in case they are put on the spot with awkward questioning. Those who rise to the challenge deserve a second chance.

Q. My wife and I perennially battle over whether or not to bring back a gift from visits overseas for our well-remunerated cleaner. I do not wish to have my holidays disrupted to find and fund a present for someone simply doing her job.

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