Q. A delightful but disorganised friend has invited several of our circle for a weekend at his family’s beautiful country home, having hosted a similar group last year. I have received all the particulars and accepted with pleasure. However, I know of another friend (in last year’s group) to whom the host mentioned the possibility of this year’s reprise, but she has not had full details. How can I delicately figure out if this is an oversight or deliberate?
— Name and address withheld
A. Ring the host and mention that you are thinking of asking for a lift with this friend but don’t want to put your foot in it if she hasn’t been asked. At this point the host will say that, sadly, for whatever reason, he hasn’t asked her this year. Or else he will say that he has (being disorganised he may think that he has) but she hasn’t yet let him know if she’s coming. If the latter, you can say ‘I’ll chase her’.
Q. I am a sergeant in the Queensland Police and recently had a bet with my former inspector about a work-related matter. The winnings were a carton of boutique beer which will cost the inspector the best part of A$100. We shook on the bet. The end date of the bet was nearly three weeks ago, but I have not seen my winnings. I know he remembers the bet and the date. It appears he does not feel he has to pay. Considering that he outranks me, how can I remind him with humour and respect that it would be ungentlemanly and dishonourable to not pay?
— Name withheld, Queensland, Australia
A. Set up a social or even work encounter with this man. Choose a venue which involves walking past a cashpoint. Ask him to wait as you casually stop at the cashpoint and draw out A$150, then assume an absent-minded air as you hand him A$100. When he asks ‘What’s this for?’, look daft for a moment, then cry pleasantly, ‘Oh I must be mad. I don’t owe you A$100. You owe me A$100 in beer! You can just give me cash if it’s easier.’ Step back eloquently to allow him access to the cashpoint.
Q. My wife and I went for lunch to an upmarket hotel in Palma, Mallorca. We were directed to the foyer bar, where we were ignored as two waiters and other staff attended to an obviously wealthy couple who had arrived after us. Were we right to walk out in disgust or should we have stayed and made a fuss?
— P.W., Lancashire
A. You were wrong to walk out in disgust. Nor should you have stayed and made a fuss. What if the wealthy couple were the owners of the hotel? More pertinently, what if they were known big tippers? Most waiters simply need the money. Many are snobs — which is their tragedy. But if they were as chippy about personal status as you and your wife clearly are, the restaurant world would grind to a halt.