Q. I am 44 and, for various reasons, have been single for about five years, but I now have a girlfriend. When people ring to invite me to dinner, I would like to say, ‘I have a girlfriend now. Can I bring her?’, but I do not want to embarrass anyone since I am well aware that one of the reasons I receive so many invitations is because people like to have a spare man at the table. On the other hand, I wonder whether maybe some of my hosts would like to meet my wonderful girlfriend and might be quite happy to invite her too. How should I sound people out, Mary, without putting them on the spot?
A. Reply, ‘Oh, no, I’m busy that night, but maybe I can get out of it. The thing is I’ve just left a message for my new girlfriend asking her to do something that night but she hasn’t got back to me yet to say yes or no. Tell you what — I’ll chase her now and if she’s busy, I’d love to come.’ This gives your host the chance to say, ‘Oh, do bring her,’ or, ‘Well, I would invite her too but we are a bit short of men.’ Gradually your surplus of invitations will diminish.
Q. May I pass on a tip to readers? If you are short of money, as I am, why not invest in an air ticket from Heathrow to Buenos Aires with British Airways? There is only one flight a day and the flight is always overbooked. The airline will ask for volunteers who do not mind delaying their departure to come forward and will pay you £500 and put you up in a hotel until the next day’s flight when you can volunteer once again to stay over in London.