Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 17 January 2009

Your problems solved

Q. I know someone who is a theatre producer, an extremely generous man who never says no to anyone, whose secretary is besieged with calls from friends of his wanting (often free) tickets for Oliver! How can she deal with this without offending them? How can he continue coming off like a saint? It is doing the poor secretary’s head in.

Name and address withheld

A. So that the applicants can avoid feeling like members of a salon de refusés or that other friends have been given priority, the secretary must say that the producer had allocated his block of special tickets to a charity. ‘We are hoping that some of these will be returned,’ she can say. ‘In which case you will be at the very top of the queue, but in the meantime it might be safer for you to join the ordinary queue for returns.’ In this way your friend will be able to retain his saintly status.

Q. While corporate jets and private aircraft are deeply uncool in the present climate, all that changes when, out of the blue, you are invited by a very successful City friend to take a lift to a shoot in his eight-seater helicopter. All carbon-footprint and moral issues fly out the window with the glamour and excitement of such a tempting and almost certainly one-off invitation. You accept with gratitude and think it your good fortune to have the opportunity to know the experience of private air travel. Then, to your dismay, it is casually suggested that you might like to contribute something towards the fuel of the return flight — Battersea to North Wales. Your fellow passengers are none too bothered (being recent masters of the universe) but to your horror you know that having accepted a wonderful suggestion you are now in for several hundred pounds.

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