Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 26 April 2018

Text settings

Q. An acquaintance, whom I admire but don’t know well, sent me a ‘begging’ letter to donate to a charity close to her heart. It’s the kind of charity I like (it does good, is small and slightly obscure) and so I set up a direct debit to send it a modest amount each month. In her letter she suggested a donation be either sent to her or straight to the charity but that I should let her know so that she could thank me. Annoyingly, I was typically disorganised and I didn’t email her back straight away to say I had done it. It’s now been a couple of months. It feels odd to email her for thanks but I also don’t want her to think I’ve ignored her letter.

— D.M., Shropshire

A. Email her now. Copy in the charity’s administrators. Keep the tone semi-formal and pompous as you announce that, as a result of her flagging up the charity, you have instigated a modest monthly direct debit. ‘Ambassadors’ for charities thrive on receiving praise in print rather than through verbal gushing when they next run into the donor in real life. Charity law means that ambassadors don’t get to see the donor lists, and so without your email she might never find out you had responded to her overture.

Q. Our older brother has married for the first time in later life. We all love his wife but she has mild OCD regarding cleaning. So much stuff has been taken to various dry-cleaners over town and the receipts then mistakenly thrown out as part of the purging of litter that hundreds of pounds worth of clothes and eiderdowns etc, have gone uncollected. And of course, most dry-cleaners get rid of the things after three months. What should she do?

— Name and address withheld

A. Your sister-in-law should simply photograph the paper receipts next to the items she is about to dispatch over the dry-cleaning counters and keep the records on her iPhone.

Q. I met someone on Tinder who is clever, kind and solvent and has stood up well to the scrutiny of three house parties. I know I have struck gold and should not be ungrateful; however he is just a tiny bit too short. Two inches would make all the difference. I want him to get the same shoes with concealed height boosters that a friend wears so effectively. How can I suggest this without making him feel paranoid?

— Name and address withheld

A. After the next party, at which he may, for example, have worn some black leather loafers, ask him if he could possibly have picked up the wrong pair since another guest has picked up loafers from the back door identical to his own but without the two-inch built-in height boosters (then name the supplier). Once it lodges in your boyfriend’s mind that such boosters are acceptable, he will beat a path to the supplier’s door.