Q. My sister runs a yoga school and a middle-aged gentleman has joined. Although she is delighted to encourage male membership in a very female-dominated session, his male membership tends to make appearances throughout the lesson due to the looseness of the shorts he wears. In her position at the
front teaching, my sister is the only one exposed to these displays and there is little hard evidence that this is anything other than a gentleman enjoying the free-flowing nature of the class. However it can put her off. How would you cover this?
— W.C., address withheld
A. Benign (i.e. incognisant) flashing is a recurrent theme in Dear Mary’s mailbag. It is most widespread among male pyjama-wearers within house parties. Once someone tips off the offender, he is usually mortified and takes care not to become a repeat offender. Since buttoned pyjama flies are a rarity, the only solution is to get properly dressed. Even a dressing gown is of no help where man-spreading is likely to take place. This yoga student also needs to be tactfully tipped off. Your sister should enlist the help of a male friend who can pose as a stranger to her and a one-time student for the next session. He can whisper his advice at the end of the class.
Q. A few weeks ago at the Edinburgh Festival I found myself sitting directly behind a middle-aged couple who were enjoying the first flush of their new relationship. He had his arm around her, and she had her head on his shoulder. Every few minutes they felt the need to express their devotion to each other by embracing and kissing. This went on throughout the play. The consequence was that, being a woman of medium height, I couldn’t see what was happening on stage. I was too embarrassed to express my frustration for fear of embarrassing them. What actions would you recommend in case I should find myself in a similar quandary next year?
— L.S., Edinburgh
A. You should have lent forward and murmured conspiratorially, ‘Would one of you like to swap seats with me?’, meanwhile nodding and winking Benny Hill-style. This would have confused the couple sufficiently to put an end to their public displays of affection — which incidentally never go down well anywhere, even between the most glamorous couples alive.
Q. Forgive me but the Christmas letters you refer to (Dear Mary, 28 September) are not ‘round robins’, they are circulars to family and friends. Originally a naval term, the round robin was a petition addressed to the authority where the signatures of the petitioners were inscribed in a circle, thus concealing the leader’s name.
— I.M., Sutton
A. Thank you. I stand corrected.