Mary Killen

Dear Mary: How do I reject a wedding invitation without causing offence?

Dear Mary: How do I reject a wedding invitation without causing offence?
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Q. I have just been invited to a wedding where the groom will be the only person I know. Much as I like the groom, I don’t really want to go, because the wedding is on New Year’s Eve, in Glasgow. However, he has asked me so far in advance that I can’t think of a reason to say no. Mary, what should I do?

— Name and address withheld

A. Accept immediately with great enthusiasm and the proviso that there is a very small chance there may be a work thing at that time which you can’t talk about but would definitely pre-empt your coming. Send a generous wedding present soon (think how much you will be saving in travel and accommodation costs) and nearer the time cancel, as you feared you might have to. The groom will only remember your initial enthusiasm and your generous present and will feel sorry for you that you cannot come. Stay off social media on New Year’s Eve.

Q. We live on a delightful farm in Herefordshire, with holiday cottages around the farmyard. There is one problem, though: our residential handsome but solitary troublesome gander called George. He chases our guests, particularly females and dogs, as they walk through the yard enjoying a stroll. I have suggested to my husband we move the gander. He too is handsome but stubborn, and won’t hear of it! What do you suggest I do?

— C.B., Herefordshire

A. Clearly the gander is acting as an avatar for your husband and he enjoys the power surge he gains by proxy as he watches it chase women. Find a likely collaborator among your female guests who would be prepared to bring your husband to his senses by pleasantly suggesting this notion to him. For example, she might say: ‘Don’t worry. I’m used to being chased by ganders. Aren’t people funny, though? Last time it turned out that the farmer was using the gander as an avatar and he enjoyed the power surges he got from seeing it chasing women. Obviously that’s not the case with you! But, incidentally, what is the legal position?’

Q. I am going to be giving some socially distanced outdoor lunches and wonder if I have to buy disposable salt and pepper grinders for each guest? I can see why a communal grinder is a bad idea and I saw some disposable ones at Easter. I thought they were a bit over the top but do people now expect them?

— W.L., Alton, Hants

A. These disposable devices should not be used, and not just because of the landfill problem. It is better to go with miniature seasoning saucers and spoons. In this way, those who find their dishes lacking in adequate flavour can discreetly keep re-seasoning without anyone noticing. The alternative is a disruptive and sometimes deafening chorus of grinding which can only undermine the host’s self-esteem.