Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 25 August 2007

Your problems solved

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Q. I am going to stay with some grown-ups in a house next to the beach in Suffolk. I will be the only boy of eight who is staying. The other children are too old to play with me. There is no television and I have finished the Harry Potters. What can I do?

L.B., Camden Town, London

A. You might follow the example of Milo Rowse, aged eight, and his friend William Polito who staged a summer display outside Milo’s house in Thorpeness. The boys filled a disused aquarium with a selection of 20 or so insects and other wildlife ranging from beetles to woodlice to newts, all found within the Rowse’s own garden. Having identified the beasts, they dubbed their display ‘The Secrets of Sandy Lodge’ and invited passers-by to pay one pence each to examine its creepy contents. Business was so brisk the charge soon went up to ten pence per person. The boys kept one quarter of their takings for themselves and gave the other three quarters to charity. Why not improvise a similar display using what see-through receptacles your mother has to hand? You will soon find a boy of your own age emerging from a nearby house to offer his services as fellow curator. This will keep you busy for days.

Q. I get so bored with people asking me what scent I am wearing because usually it is something I don’t want to divulge. I used to be the only person I knew wearing Ambre Extrême by L’artisan Parfumeur and then Hadrian’s Water by Annick Goutal but so many people have copied me since that I don’t want to wear either of them any more. Next time I find something I love, how should I politely conceal its source from others who ask?

S.G., Yorkshire

A. Why not take a tip from Celia Lyttelton, author of the recent travelogue, The Scent Trail (Bantam)? Celia began her olfactory odyssey by visiting a bespoke perfumer to have her own signature scent composed for her. An ‘odour profile’ was performed out of which was created a perfumed aura that no one else can buy, copy or imitate because it was composed of ingredients only of relevance to herself and reflective of her personality. Celia chose, for example, nutmeg (because she loves cooking with it), ambergris (whales’ vomit) ‘to give mystery and an ethereal aura’ and frankincense and myrhh to remind her of childhood visits to Yemen. Her mixture, she claims, is both aromatherapeutic and aphrodisiac. You too could visit Anastasia Brozler at Creative Perfumers, 21 Arlington Street, London SW1, Tel: 0207 629 8468. You will then be able to tell enthusiasts that, sadly, this ‘eau de moi’ can never be replicated although you are happy to hand on the address where it was created.

Q. My otherwise lovable husband has a maddening habit of leaving his intimate items of underwear around in the house. He refuses to admit responsibility, saying that these things belong to our teenage sons and that they have done it. How can I cure him of this habit?

Name and address withheld

A. Punish your husband by ordering the largest possible name tapes available from Cash’s and stitching them on to his underpants and socks. In this way he will have to face up to his responsibilities.

A special Dear Mary will appear in The Spectator’s forthcoming rugby supplement. Please send your rugby-related problems to Dear Mary, c/o The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.