Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 13 September 2018

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Q. Following a small dinner last night in a private house, I got home to find £300 missing from my handbag, which I’d left in the kitchen while we ate in a dining room. There were only eight guests, all of whom I’ve known for decades, and a loyal housekeeper who has worked for my friend for 20 years. My friend is a great offence-taker so I don’t feel I can tell her because she might impulsively sack the downtrodden housekeeper. On the other hand, if it was the housekeeper, she could one day clean out all my friend’s bank accounts so I do have a duty to mention it. But it could also just as easily have been one of the other guests who may have gone mad, or become a kleptomaniac. What should I do?

— C.H., London SW3

A. You can inoffensively open up an Agatha Christie-style discussion of the mystery by reworking the facts. Ring your friend to say that the extraordinary thing is that when you got home you found £300 in your bag which was definitely not there when you arrived. Who on earth could have put it there? Could she ask the others? As the other guests are drawn into the mystery, they will voice their suspicions. ‘Are you sure you didn’t have £300 stolen?’ etc. At least it will set your friend’s brain thinking along the lines of the security in her house and let the culprit know you are onto them. I suspect it was probably a member of the housekeeper’s family who stole the money.

Q. A new colleague sits next to me at work. He is another young man of my age (24) and I like him but my problem is that he asks me what I am going to have for lunch each day. I am not that interested in food and don’t care what I have, but we usually go out to get something at about 1 p.m. (we all bring our lunches back to our desks and work through) and he starts obsessing at around 11.15 a.m. about what he fancies and what do I fancy and have I tried Pret hot wraps or Eat noodle soups etc, and perving over how delicious one thing is over the other. I think he sees this as a way of bonding with me so I don’t want to crush his confidence by saying I’m finding it annoying. However, I don’t want to take my mind off my work to think and talk about food all morning.

— Name and address withheld

A. You can put a stop to this quickly by alleging that you think you are overweight. It doesn’t matter whether you are or not since there is so much body dysmorphia about, increasingly among young men. To this end you are going to bring Huel powder for lunch each day to keep a check on your intake. You would be grateful if he did not undermine your resolve by tempting you with more tasty alternatives. You can bond with him by engaging him in discussion over your work instead.