Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 18 October 2018

Dear Mary | 18 October 2018
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Q. My fiancé and I spend many great weekends with another couple. I am a vegetarian and quite particular about certain food textures and I cannot stand slimy foods like overcooked mushrooms or undercooked eggs. The husband of our good friends prides himself on the brunches he rustles up on the Sunday of these weekends, presenting the others with full English breakfasts and me with scrambled eggs on toast. I don’t quite know what he does to these eggs but they appear in front of me in a semi-liquid form, soaking into the toasted bread. I really need to figure out a way to stop this without offending our hosts. We’ve got to the point where I am presented with a mountain of this gloopy mess without being asked. I cannot request just toast the night before. How do I overcome this predicament?

— Name and address withheld

A. No one over 35 would hesitate to make the straightforward request: ‘May I just have toast today?’ In your generation, however, hypersensitivity about giving offence has become something of a new religion. The solution of claiming a late-onset egg allergy was rejected by you in our private correspondence as ‘too detrimental to the many meals out and indulgences we enjoy with the couple in question’. Fortunately, food neuroses are now mainstream, so you can claim to be on the 5:2 egg avoidance diet. Never mind that such a diet doesn’t exist yet — just say you have set aside Sundays as one of the two days per week on which you don’t eat eggs.

Q. I am still at university but have just taken a job as caretaker in a building only yards away from campus. The job comes with a small one-bed flat. I am anxious about what to do when student friends start to drop in saying that they are desperate to use the loo. What if I don’t want them to because I know there’s a disgusting smell in there because I’ve just made it?

— Name and address withheld

A. Remain calm as you shudder: ‘You’re welcome to use it but I wouldn’t recommend it. The builder upstairs has just been in.’

Q. A friend’s niece who got her first job last year and still lives with her parents is coming from Belgium to stay with him in his London flat. She has asked him to book a table for three (herself, my friend and his partner) at one of the most expensive restaurants in the capital. How can he make sure that she intends to treat them, as there is no way that they can afford a massive restaurant bill at the moment?

R.T., Shropshire

A. He should act daft and email or ring to say, ‘It’s a very generous thought but are you sure? We would be just as happy going somewhere less expensive and we are equally happy to cook dinner for you in the flat.’