Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 23 June 2012

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Q. We grow our own organic vegetables, and do not really have a surplus to speak of, but because they are so fashionable and sought-after my husband cannot resist giving them away. How can we put a stop to this? for reasons of economy, we would prefer to be eating the produce ourselves.

— M.W., Wilts

A. Why not take a tip from organic guru Bob Flowerdew and invite people round to consume the vegetables at your table? In this way you can be generous with ounces rather than pounds of vegetables and at the same time your husband can enjoy a more extended self-validation experience. Meanwhile, the guests are likely to bring wine which will counterbalance your own outlay on meat.

Q. Recently I had occasion to visit a friend’s bathroom. On the cistern behind the lavatory stood a vase of quite perfect pink roses. They were so perfect that, had I been anywhere else, I would have been inclined to bend down to sniff them. Closer examination proved them to be artificial — always viewed with disfavour elsewhere in the house. Could it be permissible to use artificial flowers in this situation, provided of course that they are dusted regularly?

— R.Y., Cobbitty, NSW, Australia

A. No, it could not be. Bad taste and artificiality are only acceptable if brazen. Thus, for example, you might have a few fantastically obvious artificial flowers mixed in with real ones, or you might spray an exquisitely pretty white rose tree (made of silk) with Penhaligon rose water and stand it in front of an air- conditioning unit to flutter merrily in the scented breeze. But a lavatory is the one place where the presence of even real flowers is unacceptable. Their incongruous presence only serves to signal some kind of cover-up. And then the mind is prompted to wonder: what kind of cover-up?

Q. My flatmate is a fiery person. I respect and slightly fear her. She has a charismatic boyfriend whom I suspect — in fact, know — to have a high sex drive. He has moved into the flat and I am worried about what will happen when she goes away for a wedding shortly. I can hardly have locks fitted to my bedroom door as my flatmate will want to know why. What do you advise?

— E.C., London SW3

A. There is rarely a need to have locks fitted in this scenario. Simply pick up a door wedge from your nearest hardware store for under five pounds and slip it under your door. These devices are puny in appearance but mightily powerful.