Q. Previously a long-term and content single man, earlier in the year I began a relationship with a wonderful girl, despite warnings from friends that she had a reputation for suddenly and crushingly breaking the hearts of a string of boyfriends. I reassured myself and my friends that this was different and special. Months later, and happily committed to what I thought was a long future with her, with no signs to the contrary, inevitably I have been tossed aside via WhatsApp messages and a phone call. How can I avoid the pitying looks from those who warned me?
— Name withheld, London SW3
A. As soon as you enter a room where one of the likely offenders is present, move swiftly forward to give a lengthy hug of greeting wherein neither of you can see the other’s facial expression. Disarm them by some vigorous tickling. The surprise will pre-empt the delivery of a pitying look, and it will also unnerve — and even irritate — your victim. Sympathy will suddenly seem inappropriate.
Q. Your correspondent J.A.(27 October) complains of the overt enthusiasm of vegans when eating their sanctimonious meat-free dishes. I occasionally stay with a friend who has just become vegan. Is it acceptable for a house guest to bring a contribution of non-vegan food if she offers to cook it herself?
— L.B., London NW1
A. I have consulted the vegan author Lucy Ogilvie-Grant. Lucy decrees: ‘Vegetablists smart with feelings of humiliation, having endured relentless digs about “rabbit food”, and it’s consequently very common for them to overexaggerate the deliciousness of non-animal food. However it’s also true that when you stop eating meat regularly, vegetables do become more palatable. It is not acceptable to cook your own carnivorous meals while staying as a guest. When the need for flesh arises, you should repair to the local restaurant for a solo steak.’ A stern view, as can only be expected in today’s increasingly divisive and fundamentalist world. Yet vegans and meat-eaters still mingle happily in non-vegan restaurants without fear of moral contamination. So if the flesh moves you, either go quietly or invite your host and fellow guests to join you in a local restaurant.
Q. Here’s a useful tip for your readers who forget what they want to say: in her twilight years, my mother solved that problem by surreptitiously crossing two of her fingers as soon as she thought of something. When a suitable break occurred she was able to uncross her fingers and make her contribution. I am now approaching the same age and find myself employing the same technique. I can assure readers it never lets me down.
— P.W., Glendowie, New Zealand
A. Thank you for sharing this tip.