Mary Killen

Your Problems Solved | 30 November 2002

Etiquette advice from The Spectator's Miss Manners

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Dear Mary...

Q. I am a hereditary peer. I am also in the auctioneering business and my work takes me to the United States, where confusion frequently arises over my Christian name. What is the most tactful way for me to correct those who have misunderstood the details on my business card and assume that my parents actually chose the name 'Lord' rather than it being thrust upon me, as it were?

Name and address withheld

A. Let us assume that you are Lord Blunderbuss and that your true Christian name is 'Peregrine'. The very first time the misunderstanding is confirmed - when, for instance, someone says, 'Good to meet you, Lord' - you should reply, 'Oh, just call me Peregrine. I never use my title.' If, however, you wish to pull rank for any reason, say, 'Thank you very much for using my title. You know, five years ago in England everyone referred to me as Lord Blunderbuss. These days people are much less courteous....'

Q. During the summer I attended a performance of Gifford's Circus, where everyone in my party was totally enchanted by the dancing pony, the tightrope walkers and the acrobats. I, however, found my own eyes were totally transfixed by the legs of the dancing girls. These girls were dressed in traditional circus-girl costumes, rather like swimming suits, but each one of them had legs of totally flawless tone and, knowing that even Claudia Schiffer complains of having cellulite, I wondered how this effect was achieved. Can you help, Mary?

D.W., Marlborough, Wiltshire

A. Yes, I attended some of these performances myself. The 'flawless tone' effect of their legs is achieved by wearing a shimmering pair of support tights, from somewhere like the Pineapple Dance Studios, underneath a pair of extremely tight fishnets. There is no reason why you should not copy this technique for use on the non-professional circuit.

Q. I do not think that your correspondent (9 November) and partner, together earning £500,000 p.a., should consider themselves 'rich' and therefore feel guilty. Surely the definition of 'wealthy' is the ability to live off the income of one's income? In these days of derisory interest rates, the income on a - presumably pre-tax - income of £500,000 would scarcely keep your correspondents in champagne. You can reassure them: they have a lot further to go.

M.S., Richmond, Surrey

A. Thank you for putting these correspondents in their place.

Q. I am a little nervous because next week I am going to meet someone called Olinda Adeane. Can you give me any advance information about what she is like?

Name and address withheld

A. Mrs Adeane is a Suffolk landowner's wife who won a Vogue talent contest as a teenager. She is known for her sense of humour and generous disposition. She has several theatrical friends and her reassuring manner will put you swiftly at your ease.

If you have a problem, write to Dear Mary, c/o The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL.