Mary Killen Mary Killen

Dear Mary: how do I make sure I’m left alone at a health retreat? 

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Q. I have given in to pressure from a talented godson and agreed to introduce him to a successful businessman whom my godson thinks he could work with. Knowing them both well, I believe he is right. I have arranged a dinner party at my house but we are going to be four men and four women at the (round) table so it would look a bit obvious and pushy to put the two men beside one another. A complication is that the successful one cannot arrive until just before we sit down so they won’t be able to talk beforehand. Any suggestions, Mary?

– J.W., London W8

A. Seat the senior protagonist on your right and the junior on your left. After the main course explain that you must go into the kitchen to attend to the final dish. Make yourself scarce for long enough for them to start talking, and if there is compatibility it will quickly become evident. When you come back, casually ask your godson to swap places with you and turn enthusiastically to the person now on your left.

Q. For the last six or seven years I have spent two weeks in January at a top health retreat on Lake Geneva. I’m quite well known in certain social circles and I have had previous visits slightly spoilt by my stay coinciding with those of people I know who want me to join their table or invite themselves to join mine. Even if I like these other spa visitors, I don’t necessarily want to socialise with them in the dining room. I’m hoping you may be able to help me to navigate this without being rude.

– Name and address withheld

A. One of the demands of fashionable nutritionists is that to aid digestion, you should train yourself to chew each mouthful at least 32 times before swallowing, ideally masticating for at least one minute before reloading your fork.

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