Mary Killen

Your Problems Solved | 16 August 2003

Etiquette advice from The Spectator's Miss Manners

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Dear Mary...

Q. What should you answer when a lady whom you have not seen for 30 years greets you with the question, 'You do not remember who I am, do you?' when you don't?

P.S., Cornwall

A. You should not worry. Such a lapse in memory is not the offence it was in the days when circles of friends and acquaintances were more manageably sized. Thirty years ago it would indeed have been hurtful not to remember someone who remembered you – particularly if that person had conceived a romantic longing for you and spent hundreds if not thousands of waking hours daydreaming about the possibility of your union. To reassure this particular lady, it might have been kind to let her have the upper hand by responding in confidential tones, 'As you can probably see, I'm not the man I was. Do help by reminding me.'

Q. My boyfriend has joined a specialist