Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 24 August 2017

Also: eating apples in close confines and why you should always take teabags on to a plane

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Q. I am in my seventies and my husband is in his nineties. The other night we had two couples to dinner. However, when they arrived (separately), we both realised we had forgotten their names, so when I brought the second couple into the drawing room I was incapable of introducing everyone to each other — they were meeting for the first time. This set the evening off to a terrible start, but our memory failure was no reflection of our affection for our guests or of our general brain power. Mary, what would you have done in these circumstances?

— Name and address withheld

A. When the second couple arrived, you could have ushered them into your drawing room but not entered it yourself, so that they were forced to introduce themselves while you eavesdropped at the door in order to refresh your memory.

Q. Flying to Oslo with BA on expensive tickets, my son and I asked for strong cups of tea. We were told we had to pay double as they sold it by the tea bag. Was I right to be shocked?

— P.O., Lancaster

A. Of course you were right. This is a demoralising tale of penny-pinching which strikes exactly the wrong note at a time when loyal fliers are wondering what the difference is between BA and a budget airline. Well-organised readers should board the plane with their own teabags in hand luggage and just order hot water, which presumably will be free of charge. They can then discreetly make their own ‘brews’.

Q. This year we have a glut of apples and my husband is trying to get through them. He has got into the habit of eating one every time we set out on a car journey. (I’ve lost my licence and am dependent on him for the next six months.) I personally find the noise and the mist of apple particles spraying out into the car rather disgusting. My husband says I am neurotic. Mary, can you rule on the acceptability or otherwise of eating an apple while driving another person in a car?

— M.W., Pewsey, Wilts

A. It is never acceptable to eat an apple in a confined space with other people unless the apple has been chopped into pieces. Why not outwit your husband by keeping a knife in the glove compartment?

Q. One of my best friends, John, knows another man who lives in the same village as me but doesn’t want to have to see him every time he visits me. But my neighbour gets chippy if he happens to see John’s car parked outside my house if he doesn’t also drop in on him. What to do?

—Name and address withheld

A. If your neighbour catches him, you can say you are furious that John visited somebody else a few miles away and was planning to only give you and your neighbour five minutes each of his time before driving back to London.