Q. How do you persuade someone drunk to leave a party when it doesn’t make sense for them to stay? When the taxi arrived to take me and two friends back to my house after a 21st, one girl refused to leave. She said she was having too good a time. Things were already winding down, it was raining, and she would have to sleep in a tent without a sleeping bag, but she was determined to stay. She admitted the next morning that she had made the wrong decision and now she joins me in asking what could have been done at the time to persuade her to come with us.
— Name and address withheld
A. In this scenario it’s wise to pretend to agree with the drunk but find a way to coax them towards the means of transport. You might have said ‘Great idea! But you mustn’t let us go before you hear the incredible news from X. He wants to tell you himself and he’s about to leave so I said we’d meet him at our taxi. You get in and I’ll go look for him.’ Drunks are a doddle to manage once they are sitting down comfortably in a warm car. Sleep will swiftly steal over them. While you go, allegedly in search of X, you will instead be locating the drunk’s coat and bag, etc. Finding the drunk fast asleep when you return to the car, you may take this as a tacit acceptance that he or she is ready to be driven home.
Q. My boyfriend and I rented a house in Normandy belonging to friends of friends. On the third night we had a call from their son asking could he and his girlfriend possibly come for one night as they had missed a ferry. They ended up staying three. They were charming, full of local knowledge and they contributed wine (from the parents’ cellar). It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without them. Nevertheless the house was hardly ‘our own’ for almost half the week, and we had paid a hefty sum. I feel that on principle the owners should make an offer to us of a partial refund, though I would not accept it. None has been forthcoming. How should I clear the air about this?
— F.J., Richmond, Yorkshire
A. Gush to the owners about the house and their son, then inquire what weeks it is free next summer. Having identified a family week, say that was the week you have been thinking of spending three days in France yourselves. Would there be room for you and your boyfriend? Add ‘We’d bring wine, like your son did.’ You don’t have to carry through with the threat. The important thing is to jolt the family out of their complacency and make them think through the entitlement syndrome that characterised the son’s invasion.
Q. Is there any way of protecting my three boys from head lice? I am dreading the start of the new school term.
— P.N., Southwold, Suffolk
A. Head lice have been controlled at one smart boarding prep school by means of making each boy wet-comb his own hair with a nit comb each morning before breakfast.