Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 6 December 2012

Q. I disagree with your advice to A.B. (8 September) about enlisting a restaurant management’s support to go on smoking his cigar despite the displeasure of the nearby patrons. We can assume that they booked in the garden because they liked the fresh air. The etiquette for any cigar smoker has always been to ask the people around him if they would mind before he lights up.
—J. McC., Geneva

A. This protocol will often backfire, as so many people do mind. However, cigar rooms and lounges are becoming de rigueur in top hotels. The Lanesborough and Bulgari boast the facility, as will the new Wellesley Hotel in Knightsbridge, which is about to open with a lounge and terrace offering one of the world’s largest collection of cigars. When you are not in one of these protective bubbles, however, a graduate of the Davidoff Ladies Masterclass in cigar-smoking says: ‘Do not ask if anyone minds if you smoke a cigar. Ask if they mind if you enjoy one. This makes people feel more churlish about refusing.’

Q. I have a problem with a charming couple who have recently settled here from France. We enjoyed each other’s company at once but when I visited them at home the evening was jarred somewhat by my involuntary bad manners, when the main course appeared in the form of Scotch eggs. These they had got in as a treat for me, having learned that I am from a Lowlands family. I associate this dish with Sunday night suppers at my public school, where I was unhappy, and after two mouthfuls was unable even to feign culinary appreciation. I saw my host and hostess both stare at the two thirds uneaten sphere as they took my plate away before producing some excellent cheeses, slices of which I devoured with exaggerated relish.

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