Q. A newish friend who has very good manners lent me a DVD of his grandfather at the Olympics. I forgot to watch it. Now, a year later, he has asked for it back but I can’t find it! It is unique and irreplaceable. I feel rather guilty but did not ask to borrow the DVD and why on earth did he wait a year to ask for it back?
— E.S., Sussex
A. If the man is old enough to have a grandfather who performed at the Olympics then he is old enough to be able to judge a friend’s ability with chaos control. The fact that he foisted the DVD on you therefore almost amounts to entrapment. You can redirect some of your guilt by saying ‘I’m sure I’ll have no problem finding your DVD as I expect you would have given it to me in some sort of distinctive box with fluorescent writing on it or something? No? But surely you wouldn’t have been so irresponsible as not to flag up its importance with some sort of special packaging? Oh dear, you had better come into my house and look for it yourself as you will be better attuned to finding it.’ In this way you unload (rightfully) some of the guilt at his own door.
Q. I went to a wedding in Suffolk last weekend. The timing was this: wedding 3 p.m., then a reception of canapés and champagne (with speeches) until dinner at 7 p.m., which was followed by dancing till midnight. The bride’s father’s speech was 45 minutes long and the groom’s 17 minutes. The best man spoke for around 20. Along with most of the other guests, I felt shattered by the time the speeches ended and full of champagne and canapés.