Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 21 March 2009

Your problems solved

Q. In the last few days I have opened six separate letters asking for sponsorship for the London Marathon. Each one comes from either a godchild, a relation or a child of a really close friend. I think £100 is about the going rate but I can only afford £100, not £600. I cannot sponsor one and not the others. What do you suggest, Mary?

P.Z., London SW15

A. It is time the junior generation had a reality check, so have no qualms about replying with the news that you are having to divide your London Marathon budget equally between all the applicants. Enclose a cheque for £16.65 and make no apology. Do praise them for competing but remember that, for the runner, the mental participation of the sponsors is just as relevant as the sum of money raised for good causes. There is also an element of narcissism in marathon running and the exhilaration of completing the course should tide these juniors over any minor funding blows.

Q. How can I ensure that my medical records are not inputted on to the giant NHS computer covering the whole population? I assume there is an opt-out clause for the rich and powerful but how does an ordinary person such as myself opt out? I do not like the idea of discs being lost in the post or my records being hacked into by people who do not have my medical interests at heart. We all know how easy computer hacking is and I am dismayed by this invasion of privacy. At the same time I do not want to rub my GP up the wrong way.

L.B., Dartmouth

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