Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 24 May 2018

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Q. We often take friends to what my husband calls a ‘poncey’ pub which has won numerous awards and where the atmosphere is absurdly reverential. Despite its upmarket reputation, the pub serves peculiarly large portions and, intimidated by the waiters, I feel obliged to eat it all. I don’t want to ask if I can take away any leftovers in a doggy bag. Can you think of a way in which I can collect the food without embarrassment or, indeed, giving offence to the chef?

— Name and address withheld

A. Simply order a bag of crisps with your first drink as you are choosing from the menu. Eat them. Such a receptacle is lined with a type of foil and is ideal to use as a pop-up doggy bag.

Q. Later this year I am going to a wedding weekend in the south of France. I am the best man to an old friend who has been a loyal companion for many years. The problem is that I really fancy his sister, and I think she quite likes me too. Is it acceptable to tackle both tasks on this jaunt?

— Name and address withheld

A. It certainly is — provided you are considering a romantic liaison rather than a potentially exploitative one. Weddings are the traditional place for people to begin new but lasting relationships. You will find, if questioning others in your network, that a high percentage of couples met their partners at just such an event. There is no need to hold back; in fact you may even be expected to fulfil this duty alongside your other more prosaic obligations over the weekend.

Q. At 6ft 5in I am utterly fed up of people starting a conversation with the question ‘Gosh, how tall are you?’, especially when a guess would probably land them an inch either side anyway. How can I stop people from doing this?

— R.H., Woodborough, Notts

A. Indeed this tedious opening line shows a lack of imagination from the asker. Rebut by asking them: ‘Firstly, how much do you weigh?’ After some thought they will realise it is principally the same question they asked you.

Q. I have started an online meditation course and am very much into it but can’t find a quiet time in which to do the exercises. I live in a family house in Chelsea — I’m a paying guest and am in no position to throw my weight around and ask the others to give me space. Don’t suggest getting up before everyone else; they’re all awake before dawn.

— C.R., London SW3

A. That’s why they can afford a house in Chelsea. There is no reason not to download the course on to your iPhone and take it, along with a pair of headphones, into any nearby church. How about Brompton Oratory? (Obviously not when there are services on.) No one will bother you while you close your eyes and perform the exercise in such an appropriate space.