Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 23 August 2018

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Q. I live in a houseshare with two other people; one of whom I am very fond of and the other, not so much. She lies and cheats and is a terrible friend. She is a social climber extraordinaire who has abandoned her real friends. My other housemate is of the same opinion. The lease is coming up for renewal. We don’t want to move, so how do we get her out? She will not take this lying down.

— Name and address withheld

A. A calm three-step procedure will be necessary. Enlist the help of a monied friend, who has connections to both you and the good housemate. He should pay a visit to the house and declare, in front of the narcissist, that it’s his ideal property. Would you all mind if he contacts the current owner and makes tentative enquiries as to whether it might come on to the market? A week later announce that he is seriously thinking of buying the house. Since he is a plausible buyer you had all better line up somewhere else to live. The next development is that your monied friend wants you and the good housemate to stay on as his lodgers, but needs the bad housemate’s bedroom for himself. Meanwhile you should quietly line up a potential third housemate to take her place.

Q. We often have people to stay for a few days at a time. I find it annoying when they take a new glass for each drink they consume during the course of the day and another series throughout the evening. Even with a back-up, glasses-only washing machine, like the ones pubs use, we cannot keep up. Would it be a good idea to buy some sticky dots from a stationery shop and ask everyone to stick one on to their glass so they can identify it and don’t have to keep getting new ones? Or would this be too bossy? I want people to feel welcome.

— Name and address withheld

A. No, such dots would strike an officious note. Why not simply say ‘Hang on to your glass’ when you give them their first drink from each genre e.g. water, champagne,wine ...

(Cont.) Q. I have another problem. At the end of a summer’s day I always find cans of half-drunk beer littering the area around the pool and the garden. How can I encourage people to finish their drinks?

A. It would not be officious to tell guests that you insist they pour any drinks to be consumed outside into glasses. Buy large unbreakable poolside-friendly vessels made from ecologically correct ingredients, and issue one to each guest. Tell them this will avoid the very real safety risk of wasps going into cans and stinging a guest’s throat with their next swig. Wasps can be seen in glasses, thus avoiding the danger.