Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 25 October 2012

Q. I work in a large open-plan office and one of my neighbours is driving me to distraction. She has a number of peculiar habits, but the real source of my ire is that she wears at least eight gold bangles on her right arm which jangle loudly every time she moves. Other people around us are aware of this constant noise, but none of us has ever raised the issue. Please help, Mary.
— J.L.G., Biggar, Lanarkshire

A. Why not pay out of your own pocket for a feng shui expert to examine the office Qi with a view to enhancing productivity? Ensure the report’s conclusions include the recommendation that noises such as bangle-jangling, a known source of productivity blockage, should be outlawed. 

Q. What is the correct protocol regarding Conrad Black? Now that he is back in London, is it acceptable to invite him to lunch at one’s club, for example?
— Name and address withheld

A. Lord Black has served his jail sentence. The biblical, let alone humanitarian protocol, is that no further punishment need be meted out by self-appointed legislators. Lord Black may resume his normal social round. 

Q. Our son is friends at school with a boy whose parents have invited my husband and me to dinner. They are highly successful media figures. We get on well in the context of school events but dread being out of our depth at one of their smart dinner parties.
— I.W.P., Basingstoke

A. Smart dinner parties go wrong when there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. A cohort of non-smart guests is an essential ingredient. Show-offs appreciate the presence of guests who are prepared to act as an audience, laughing and listening rather than competing for the limelight or capping their stories.

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