Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 12 April 2017

Also in Dear Mary: the camper van that won’t go away; how to beat the wet-wipes plague in country loos

Dear Mary | 12 April 2017
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Q. My aunt lives in a small market town with narrow roads and limited parking. A neighbour opposite acquired a large and gruesome camper van and parked it right outside her front door. The neighbour was polite enough to ask, and my aunt was polite enough to say that, of course, it was no problem. A year later, the van is still parked there. Not only is it ugly, but it is a huge inconvenience, given that the space outside her house is permanently out of use for both her own car and for anyone visiting (e.g. me). Personally, I want to have it crushed it into a small cube and leave it on the neighbour’s doorstep, but my aunt has begged me not to say anything, for fear of upsetting the delicate ecosystem that is a small market town.

— C.L., London SW18

A. Your aunt (or you) must tell her neighbour that she is having a builder in and will need the space outside for heavy goods to be brought in and out ‘on and off for a few months’. This should jolt them out of their complacency and make them decide on the camper van’s future.

Q. Two of our daughters board locally but often come out for Sunday lunch with friends. We love having them, but these girls consistently ignore verbal and written requests that no wet wipes should go down the loo. Consequently, we regularly have to call out expensive plumbers. When confronted, they always say, ‘I didn’t think just one wet wipe would make any difference.’ But only last Monday ‘just one wet wipe’ caused a problem that cost £160 to resolve. We can hardly strip-search them before they go to the loo. Your advice?

— R.G., Calne, Wilts

A. The sale of non-biodegradable wet wipes now needs to be criminalised. In the meantime, you can remove them from the equation by installing an increasingly fashionable outdoor composting toilet. From the piles of ordure generated, wet wipes can be removed with garden sticks.

Q. I read this week that Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear was modelled on his own father — ‘He was a very polite man. He always wore a hat when he went out, in case he met a lady he knew’ (so he could raise his hat). I too am a gentleman of the old school and like to raise my hat if I meet females of my acquaintance while out. However, one of these is part of a lesbian couple. Her companion apparently dresses in a butch way. Should I raise my hat once or twice? I wouldn’t wish to risk being ‘no-platformed’ at the local golf club prize-giving.

— M.T., Ledbury, Herefordshire

A. Since those of an offence-taking age are too young to interpret the gesture, it would be safest to raise the hat twice.