Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 19 April 2018

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Q. My husband and I are excited to have been invited to dinner by our most important neighbour. However our neighbour is fairly correct so I imagine it will go down like a lead balloon if I ask for his wifi code as soon as I walk in. The problem is that now I own a smartphone, everyone knows I’m accessible at all times, and I like to discreetly glance at my emails to reassure myself that there is nothing urgent. Should I pop in earlier in the day with flowers and ask for the code then?

— S.C., Tetbury

A. I fear you are out of date. Your emails will continue to flood in as normal without your host’s wifi code. The only reason to need it would be if staying overnight and, for example, wanting to download expensive content without using your data allowance. Meanwhile, if your ‘most important’ neighbour can go without monitoring his emails during dinner, then why don’t you employ a proxy to monitor yours at the same time?

Q. My daughter is getting married this summer and I foresee a problem when the guests come to the receiving line and I kiss them all except my own daily of 35 years, who in fact will be one of my favourite people present. I think we would both feel awkward if I kissed her. Nor would I want her to feel it was a precedent. I know that many people today are touchy-feely with their dailies but ours is a rather feudal village and such behaviour has never been known.

— Name and address withheld

A. Not to kiss one individual in a line would feel odd to both parties. You should loudly exclaim, ‘Oh Mrs Murgatroyd, I hope you don’t mind but on a day like this you must let me give you a kiss!’

Q. I’m helping to organise my boyfriend’s 21st birthday at his family’s house this summer and I have a conflict of loyalty. His parents and I were planning a marquee, a delicious dinner for 100 with incredible wine and a live band. But he’s said what he really wants is a sleepover for just l5 mates (11 of them male) with beer, a barbecue, a hot tub and a bonfire. If I warn his lovely but naive parents what these lads are like on limitless beer (I am at university with them) and without a balance of female company, they’ll insist on the marquee. But if I don’t and things go wrong then I’ll feel responsible.

— Name and address withheld

A. Let the sleepover go ahead but arrange for it to start early with a strenuous group bonding activity, for example a five-mile run and some wild swimming. Next invest in high-quality organic ale which promotes feelings of benevolence rather than the aggression brought on by the chemicals in cheap beer. Finally, arrange bean bags around the bonfire with someone warbling ballads with guitar accompaniment. Hypnotised by the flames, the exhausted youths may fall asleep sooner than you could have hoped for.