Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 17 March 2012

Your problems solved

Q. A bachelor colleague is in great demand as a spare man. He often regales us with details of the fascinating people he has met at dinner. Our view is that he should occasionally have people back, but he seems to feel that, as everyone knows he has no one at home to cook, he is excused this politeness. Sometimes we suspect he feels it is he who does his hosts the favour, just by turning up. How should we tactfully hint that he may be getting a reputation as a sponger?
— R.F., London EC1

A. You can subtly steer your colleague towards the realisation that return hospitality may be due. Each time he regales you with details of the dinners he has been to, ask: ‘And did you sing for your supper?’ Eventually it will dawn on him why you keep asking this question. Once the realisation has dawned, you could suggest he take a tip from another leading London bachelor who creates great jollity by having everyone he owes back at once — hiring the restaurant Truc Vert in North Audley Street for the purpose.

Q. What do you do when a reformed drunk or drug addict, fresh out of rehab, comes to you with a request that you write a reference for them so they can volunteer for some august charity that organises, let us say, dog walkers for crippled gentlewomen? The problem is, you’ve known this person through ten years of dreadful behaviour and ten weeks of good behaviour. You want them to get a chance, but it’s very early in their recovery process. You surely can’t fib, can you — even if the whole truth will scotch your friend’s chances?
— B.T.,

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