Q. I am a very busy person. Consequently I find it maddening when I am talking to someone on the telephone and I realise that they are not concentrating on what I have to say, but instead are staring at their computer screen. A case in point is a younger friend who is a junior member of my own profession. He has consistently missed out on good advice I have given because he has not been listening properly, but has been trying to multi-task instead. What is your solution?
A. Teach the youth a lesson next time you are on the telephone to him by simultaneously sending him an email saying ‘Concentrate! I am talking to you.’
Q. The widow of a friend is generous to a fault. I want to go on meeting her for lunch but every time we do, I find she has rung up beforehand and given her card details and therefore squared the bill with the restaurant before we have even sat down. She refuses to allow me to pay anything. It is obviously something of a neurosis, since I can well afford it and I know she cannot. Indeed I happen to know that her finances are in chaos. What should I do, Mary?
—A.W., London W8
A. You can easily acquire the number of this widow’s bank account and her sort code by asking her to write a small cheque for a charity. Henceforth you can sit back and enjoy your lunches and pay the relevant sums into her account by BACS afterwards. If, as you say, she is chaotic, she will not notice your input, but at least your conscience will be clear.