Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary | 6 September 2008

Your problems solved

Q. I have lived in Indochina for more than six years but I am still invited to various society weddings, exhibition openings, concerts and parties in London. Here in Cochinchina plenipotentiaries are kind enough to include me to garden parties on their national days and receptions when they have visiting dignitaries. Even my host government extends its welcome on occasion. My problem is, how to display these invitations in a house without fireplaces and therefore without mantelpieces? One doesn’t want it assumed that one has become a social pariah just because one lives overseas and it would be a shame if visiting friends failed to realise that I am a part of the English social scene. At the same time it would be a pity if my local acquaintances were ignorant of my influential connections here in the East. I have considered but rejected the green baize pinboard latticed with riband such as we have in my London club. Do you feel I should follow the lead of R.L. Stevenson who, despite no chimney, had a fireplace installed in his study at Villa Vailima in Samoa? Can you suggest a less drastic but nevertheless conspicuous solution? I remain much agitated by being unable to display a particularly fine wedding invitation designed by Mr Humphry Stone that I received just two years ago. I would be grateful for a practical solution.
J.W., Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A. If your living quarters are bohemian, then stick the invitations into the hatbands of various panamas and straw hats hanging near your front door. If they are grand, then frame a large piece of glass and have this hanging in your entrance hall with the invitations insouciantly wedged between the frame and the glass. People will then have an excuse to examine them as they check their own reflections.

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