Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 2 August 2008

Your problems solved

Q. I am sorry this is anonymous, but I volunteered to write on behalf of a good friend — call her Anna Finch — who is terrified at the prospect of being identified in the small conservative village where she has lived for a dozen years. Here is the problem: when A.F. moved to the village and looked for a char she was advised to engage a treasure who had lived in the village all her life, was related to most of the inhabitants and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the local tradesmen. The arrangement has lasted ever since, but the treasure has gradually become a passenger and now appears to regard her position as one of permanent confidante and adviser. Virtually no work is being done. This is not a matter of increasing age or illness but simply an assumption of perceived rights. What can A.F. do to bring an end to the employment without causing her name to be blackened in the village and surrounding countryside and so losing the goodwill of all the local people?

Name and address withheld

A. A.F. must invest in a life coach. The cost will be about £220 for four sessions from a provincial practitioner. Even without a tip-off from A.F., the coach will quickly pick up on the treasure’s drawbacks. If competent, he/she will enable the treasure to perceive herself as part of a team, working to achieve a common goal, i.e. a well-run household. Her role and tasks must be tightly controlled and specified and she will no longer be able to step over the line into personal confidante as this role has now gone to a professional. Follow-up visits from the coach will monitor progress. If none is made, the coach, rather than A.F., can be the one to decree that, since the treasure is clearly not finding fulfilment through charring, then she must hold herself back no longer.

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