Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 23 March 2017

Plus the etiquette of choosing barbers and eating nuts

Dear Mary | 23 March 2017
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Q. We had some people up from London for a very long weekend. We put on an extra-special do, costing a lot of money (even hiring an after-dinner concert pianist), all for the benefit of one particular couple. This was eight weeks ago yet — despite being of the age group who knows how to behave — they didn’t write a thank-you letter. My husband has been grumbling and I worry he might use this discourtesy to curtail any further entertaining on this scale. What should I do?

— C.P., Blakeney, Norfolk

A. Email the couple saying you found one of those annoying Missed Delivery cards, dated seven weeks ago, informing you that a ‘packet’ would be held at the local post office for 18 days. You missed the deadline, and it has been returned to the sender, with no identifying details held. You were not expecting any other deliveries so, as you have not heard from them since the weekend and the dates tie in, you have concluded the ‘packet’ may have been their thank-you letter — possibly enclosing photographs of the weekend. If so, you apologise for not having acknowledged receipt and would they resend? Next time you will be more alert.

Q. Our local barber operates a system of first come, first served by first available barber. For the past few years this arrangement has suited me fine. However, last time I went there was a new barber who gave me an especially impressive cut. My problem now is how to get his services each time without offending the other two long-standing barbers who are nice guys but just not as able as the new man.

— P.A., London SE21

A. Don’t imagine that a barber is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about yourself. As long as the custom is still pouring into the salon, and his wages are assured, a barber is often more relieved than offended if a client changes preference to one of his colleagues. It means he has fewer emotional dependents, as repeat clients tend to pour out their problems to a barber. Have no reservations about baldly telling the others in the queue, ‘You go ahead of me. I’m not in a hurry and I’m holding out for Raymond...’ No further explanation is necessary.

Q. Some of our friends have rather unhygienic habits with nuts. Motivated by greed, they thrust their hand into the bowl using a clawing motion to get as many as possible and touching all the others in the process. How can we prevent this behaviour without being dictatorial?

— Name and address withheld

A. Take a tip from the Chesa Grischuna Hotel in Klosters, which serves nuts in a small glass vase with a narrow neck, so that guests are obliged to tip the ones they want into their hand without touching the rest. That way they can be as greedy as they like without offending others.