Q. We have taken a flat in Edinburgh for a month and a young girl, temporarily homeless and a friend of one of our sons, has moved in with us. We like her very much but the problem is that she goes into the (only) bathroom for more than one hour at a time, sometimes twice a day. It is so unbelievably selfish but my son doesn’t want to embarrass her by saying something. How should I deal with this without making her feel unwelcome?
— M.G.C., Edinburgh
A. Take the lock off the door. Say the landlord has been round and done it for some reason. She will not feel so secure in there with no lock. Meanwhile, instigate a new house rule. Everyone needs to leave a Post-It note on the bathroom door as they go in saying what time they will be finished in there so that no one will burst in on them. You will soon see an end to the nuisance.
Q. Before a weekend trip to Norfolk, I was kindly offered a lift by a young acquaintance who knew my host. At the pick-up point, I discovered that the car was a beaten-up old thing with no speedometer, a broken windscreen and windows that didn’t work. This would have been fine, were it not for the fact that the driver then proceeded to race along the motorway at what felt like 100 miles an hour (I couldn’t tell precisely, given the absence of speedometer), refusing to indicate and veering between the lanes.
The two-hour journey was deeply uncomfortable but I felt like I couldn’t say anything to the driver because he had generously offered me a lift. What should I have done, Dear Mary? I was a nervous wreck by the end of the trip (and on the way back, made my excuses and took the train!)
— Name and address withheld.
A. You should have calmly asked him to stop at the next service station and, once safely parked, explained that there had been a misunderstanding. Your host had clearly not mentioned that you suffer from a type of speed dysmorphia syndrome which means that even when someone is driving safely, if they are driving at over, say, 50 mph, you will perceive it as unsafe. You would have thanked him for his kindness but confessed that the solution as you see it, was for you to get a taxi on from the service station with a driver who would drive at a speed to suit you so he could go roaring on ahead.
At this point the youth would have offered to drive slowly. So he would stick to his word, you would insist on actually paying him — lets say, a mate’s rate version of the taxi fare, of perhaps £50. Clearly he was short of cash or his car would not have been in the state it was in. Thus incentivised, he would have allowed you to dictate the terms of passage.