Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 22 June 2017

Also: neglected by the hostess of a dinner party and excellent audiobook tips

Q. I import a range of very high-quality food products from Europe into the UK. They are regarded as the best in the market and have a well-proven record in European stores, but the buyer at a well-known ‘upmarket’ supermarket is elusive. When I try to get in touch, he claims to be busy and, in the last instance, dismissively advised me to send some samples with a business card. If I do that, I will have lost the opportunity for a meeting in which I could grab his attention.
— G.L., address withheld

A. Counter his mental laziness with a four-pronged attack. Let’s call your products the Coup de Gout range and the upmarket supermarket Primary Palate. Co-ordinate a widespread network of friends to ring the managers of their local branches of Primary Palate to request Coup de Gout products. A separate loyalty card-holding network should email Primary Palate to make the same request. Just 12 inquiries should be enough to require your buyer to look into Coup de Gout. Meanwhile, ask a journalist friend to interview the buyer for a trade magazine; they should enquire about Coup de Gout. Time your campaign to coincide with a week when a friend’s beady-minded child is serving as intern in the buyer’s office. Send your samples in during this time. All this should jolt the buyer out of his torpor.

Q. I was seated on the right of a young woman who had invited ten to dinner, but she kept jumping up and down to fuss over things in the kitchen, leaving me feeling spare as the people on either side of me were already talking. What should I have done?
— R.G., London W11

A. You could have issued a gentle reprimand by joining her each time she jumped up, saying: ‘I insist on helping you.

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