Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 25 July 2009

Your problems solved

Q. My husband has started working from home. The invasion of my privacy and the disruption of my peace is driving me almost mad. Now he has developed a habit of standing at the bottom of a staircase to the room where I myself work and yelling questions up it. He says he is too busy to come up the stairs and talk to me in a more civilised manner. I have tried to train him by not answering unless he comes upstairs, but then I can miss out if he assumes I am not in and he is calling to, for example, tell me something I really want to hear. I do not want to yell back, Mary, but neither do I want to have to get up from my desk, walk across the room and halfway down the staircase in order to answer him without having to shout myself. How can we move forward?

Name and address withheld

A. Install a baby alarm in your working room with the receiving end near the bottom of the staircase up which your husband yells. You need not leave it permanently on, just click the switch when you need to broadcast your answer in a calm speaking voice. Don’t forget to click it off again — otherwise your privacy will be even further invaded.

Q. Mary, is luggage common?

H.R., Barnton, Edinburgh

A. Luggage in itself is not common. What has changed, however, is that while in the early days of travelling a grandee was distinguished by the large quantity of his luggage, today the reverse is the case.

Q. Last week, I offered my seat on the tube to an elderly lady carrying multiple Tesco shopping bags, and was surprised to see my altruism met with a shriek of disgust.

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