Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 26 May 2012

Your problems solved

Q. I give a young guns’ shoot for my childrens’ twentysomething friends every year and make a house party of it— it is an essential part of this very extravagant weekend that guests come to both the shoot and the dinner afterwards. This is fine for those staying; but I have found recently that one or two local invitees from very social families, who get a lot of these sort of invitations, accept the shoot but refuse the dinner on the basis that they have prior invites elsewhere. How can I tactfully make sure that they realise it is both or nothing, leaving them no opportunity to accept only the shoot, without giving offence?
— Name withheld, Shaftesbury, Dorset

A. The owner of a rival shoot responds as follows: ‘I think this is quite an unusual attitude — when we invite “day guns” to our shoot we expect them to just come for the day, unless there’s a particular reason for them to come to dinner as well, and there usually isn’t. In our neck of the woods we find most day guns a bit dreary, usually being earnest neighbours.’ Clearly the day guns in your neck of the woods are superior, so why not trick them into compliance? Book them in for dinner on, say, 20 November. Once they have agreed, say ‘We’re having a shoot that day, would you like to join us for that as well?’


Q. How do you pronounce the now ubiquitous grain quinoa? I thought it was ‘quin-oh-haa’, then got laughed at by Notting Hill folk who say ‘key-nwah’. Which is correct?
— L.G., London SW10

A. It is indeed pronounced ‘key-nwah’ in the Andean region of South America, where it originates, but the English pronunciation should be ‘quin-oah’ with the emphasis on the first syllable.

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