Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 2 February 2017

Also: where the young should sleep after a late-night shindig; a temporary colleague’s annoying laugh

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Q. My granddaughter has asked to use our barn for her 21st birthday dance in June. We can only sleep 30 in the house, but she won’t let me arrange billets with neighbours for the other 70, saying ‘everyone will sleep in their cars’. This seems short-sighted. It goes against the grain not to offer folk beds after a late-night shindig. Should I overrule her?

— E.C., Adelstrop,Glos

A. The reason the young no longer need beds after 21st dances is first that they tend to stay up all night and second they are prurient about drink-driving, so would in any case be unable to drive to a guest billet on public roads. The well-prepared will bring duvets and pillows in anticipation of sleeping in their cars between, say, 7 a.m. and 10, so if you wish to be hospitable, make it clear that they are welcome to come inside and stretch out more comfortably on your floors during this period. They will sleep in mixed-sex rows without inhibition, and without hanky-panky — for various reasons, the boys aren’t interested.

Q. My husband is on a strict diet for health reasons. Because he finds it impossible to resist cheese and chocolate, I no longer have any in the house for him to be tempted by. My problem is that I also have two strapping, hearty (and thin) sons with young men’s appetites, both of whom love cheese and chocolate and want to be able to eat it when they come home. It seems divisive to never have any for them to enjoy, but every time I do buy some and hide it, no matter how ingenious the hiding place, my husband always finds it and eats it.

— J.F.,London SW12

A. Purchase a lockable metal cash box from a hardware shop. You need one with three keys. Place the contraband inside this box, which can live in your fridge, and issue a key to each of your sons.

Q. A new colleague has been employed on a short-term contract to cover maternity leave. She comes highly recommended by a reliable source and is undoubtedly a very nice person but I am going to have to share an office with her and, during our brief interview, I found she laughed after everything she said and after everything I said. It’s probably a nervous laugh but I can’t be doing with it. My work is difficult enough without someone laughing like a hyena all day. Mary, I don’t want to give this slightly insecure girl a complex, but if the laughing doesn’t calm down after the first day or so, once she starts to feel more secure, what should I do?

— Name and address withheld

A. Each time she laughs, inquire gently, ‘Oh do tell me what’s so funny. I could really do with a good laugh. Oh go on — please tell me…’ Be persistent in asking her every time. This method will jolt her awareness to the nuisance and should eventually help to curb the hysteria.