I have been alone in the country this festive season as my adult children and most of my friends are abroad until the second week of January. I have been perfectly happy to have avoided all the fuss about food, to have got on with some work, and to have walked my dog. My grown-up daughter was worried I would have no parties or fun, but this was mitigated by the fact that I had been asked to a local private dinner for an American writer who happens to be my literary hero. However, at a carol service on Christmas Eve I saw the well-connected woman with whom he is staying, and she didn’t mention anything about seeing me for dinner on 5 January. I’m worried that she has forgotten. She is very friendly, but also flaky. She and her husband have already been very hospitable to me, and I do reciprocate, but don’t want to seem pushy or needy. If I ring to enquire and she has forgotten, I might put her table under stress.
— E.S., Sussex
Yes but you must find out whether she is expecting you or not, because you could equally put her table under stress by not being present if she has counted you in. Ring this vague woman and say: ‘Tell me what you think I should do. Someone local invited me to an exciting dinner and I accepted, but now I think she may have forgotten she invited me. I really don’t mind if she has forgotten as I have something else enjoyable I could do instead, but if I ring to remind her then she may insist I come out of guilt but have difficulty fitting me in round the table.