Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 18 August 2012

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Q. My son works in fashion and he does well, but he still lives at home. I am a good cook so I cook big dinners for him and his friends. When I see these silly thin girls sit at my table who eat hardly anything, I want to let them know that it is not healthy for them, it is wasteful; also demoralising for me to have made something very special that they will not try to enjoy. But my son says no — I must not spoil the atmosphere. Over to you, Mary?

— Name and address withheld

A. Load up the leftovers into personalised doggy bags in your kitchen and bring out a tray of the bespoke parcels while the guests are having coffee. Hover at the dining table, as you announce that you will leave the (named) parcels by the front door, like party bags, so that each girl can take one home to her own dog. In this way you will highlight the extent of the waste mountain while also putting the tasty fayre to good use. Some of the skinnies probably actually do have dogs at home which would be delighted to tuck in. Some will be furtive eaters who will enjoy doing the same in private later.

Q. A delicate question. My husband has a charming divorced friend, now in his late sixties — great fun to be with and we enjoy his coming to stay. The ‘but’ is his bathroom manners. We are a non-grand household, as he knows, and so I am the cleaner-upper. He never cleans the bath after use — there is equipment to do so. Worst is the w.c. where, likewise, cleaning equipment is provided. My husband is sympathetic but offers no resolve. At least we have our own bathroom. Are single older men inclined to this sort of behaviour?

— Mrs D.H., Suffolk

A. Yes, I’m afraid so. There is no point in carping about this particular codger’s crimes – he is too old to mend his ways. Have you made the mistake of telling him you do not have a cleaner? Correct this impression. Let him know before his next visit that you do have a cleaner — no need to reveal that it is you. In future you may keep for yourself the tip he leaves and this will sweeten the pill of your cleaning up after him. And sit back and enjoy his company and charm.

A. He should have clinked his glass and called for attention, then announced, while beaming merrily, ‘Now can we all do what the royals do, and turn to the person on our other side?’