Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary: How can I greet friends without clashing specs?

Plus: Directory inquiries for the elderly; how to correct a poor compliment

Q. As an old trout, large in height and breadth, I have taken a leaf out of the documentary Advanced Style (which celebrates elderly chic) and purchased a pair of oversize specs with big solid frames, plain in style, not à la Dame Edna. My problem is that every time I greet a friend and get kissed on one or both cheeks, it is either a clash of specs or I bump them uncomfortably on the cheek with the frames. What to do? To whip the specs off before the greeting seems as if I am expecting a slightly more intimate hallo. To angle my head away seems a bit unfriendly. Or do I just carry on clashing?
—Name and address withheld

A. Since the whole currency of social kissing has been devalued by excess, now would be an excellent moment to rise above the mob and embrace an advanced style of greeting. Instead of even attempting to kiss, cry the word ‘hug!’ as you loom down on friends with head angled away. They will instinctively mirror your movement and angle their own heads away. You will thereby achieve a clash-free greeting. Work to develop a seemly hug which signals affection yet avoids space invasion.

Q. At 84 my very social and very active mother can’t get to grips with using the internet to look up phone numbers. Unfortunately neither can she get to grips with taking in how much it now costs to ring directory inquiries (at least £5.40 for a minute). She recently ran up a bill of £32 for a single call by allowing the operator to connect her call directly at another iniquitous fee per minute. What should I do?
— J.L., London W3

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