Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 6 December 2008

Your problems solved

Q. I have a well-established and generally wonderful cleaning woman whose job, in her view, includes chatting. This was fine in the past when my children were out at school all day but now my 16-year-old son is attending sixth-form college and comes back to work at home between lessons. I have asked my ‘treasure’ to leave him undisturbed at this time but she seems not to take the request seriously. She just goes into the room where he works, sits down on the arm of his chair and chats away. A ‘Do Not Disturb’ notice on the door has had no effect. We do not want to wreck the door by having to have a lock fitted. What do you suggest, Mary? It is so important that he concentrates. How can we stop her without hurting her feelings?

C.J., Oxford

A. You can dispense with the need for a lock to be fitted by using a door wedge, available from any hardware store. Your son can thereby prevent ingress to the room from his side. Lessen the blow by pretending that you yourself have experienced this rejection. When you hear her rattling the door and knocking, say wryly, ‘Good luck to you. I tried that but he won’t let me in. He’s determined to concentrate on his work so he’s rigged up a door wedge to stop us coming in.’ This should deal with the problem.

Q. My parents have gone on to a new British Telecom plan so as to try and cut down on bills. Although we can make all local and national calls free, the problem is that mobiles still cost a lot to ring and my sister, who is at university in Edinburgh, is in a rented flat with no telephone line installed.

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