Q. Is there a tactful way to deter certain people from buying clothing for one’s tiny children as Christmas presents? I am not ungrateful, but over the last two years the very expensive clothes have been only worn twice — on the two occasions when the gifter came to visit. It seems so wasteful but I hesitate to suggest that I do not share her taste in clothing and she should save her money.
— Name and address withheld
A. No, you must not do that. Instead carefully insert the children into the clothing, leaving the labels intact. Take an old-fashioned snap (i.e. not digital) and post this as part of a thank-you letter to the kind donor. You need make no further gesture. Then take the clothing back to the expensive shop for a refund.
Q. The other day, while I was standing in Kensington High Street waiting for a 27 bus, a man I know well walked straight past me looking purposefully away. I was upset to be snubbed and my conscience played all sorts of tricks with me as I wondered what I might have done to offend him. Fortunately I was still waiting for the bus ten minutes later and happily surprised to hear the man call my name and greet me warmly. I admitted I had seen him a few minutes before and had wondered if and why he was cutting me dead. He grinned broadly and apologised and told me he was on his way to a bookies and stood to lose large sums if he missed the race. My message to readers is don’t take snubbings personally. Sometimes the snubber has a hidden agenda.
— C.B., London W8