Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Help! My stepmother uses fabric conditioner

Q. My father missed my mother so much after 50 years together that, following her death, he married again. I make every effort with my new stepmother but we have nothing in common. To be frank, common is the operative word. What I really mind is that when he and I meet alone for our

Dear Mary: why is the King tucking his tie into his trouser belt?

Q. I have noticed in various publications celebrating the King’s 75th birthday that he has been formally photographed with his tie tucked into his trouser belt. I am not sure about this look. Perhaps you might be kind enough to advise? After all, if His Majesty does adopt this, perhaps we few remaining tie wearers should

Dear Mary: how do I stop my wife from sleeping naked?

Q. Wealthy ex-pat friends came to stay and, despite being attended to assiduously by our major domo, they left without leaving him a tip. I concealed their faux pas by palming him €50 and pretending that they had given it to me to give to him. But I am annoyed at their lack of consideration,

Dear Mary: is it rude to ditch a stag do? 

Q. I have been walking my dog with a neighbour who has turned out to be a very entertaining companion. She knows masses of local gossip and is very funny when oversharing about her own dating life. I enjoy hearing all this, but she has begun fishing for the same sort of details about my

Dear Mary: should I admire a friend’s new fake breasts?

Q. As a male, what is the protocol when confronted with the noticeably bigger boobs of a platonic friend of 40 years’ standing? I have been told about them by mutual friends and will shortly be seeing them for myself when she and her husband come to stay. I usually compliment her on her appearance

Dear Mary: how do I teach my grandchildren better table manners?

Q. We frequently have our very young grandchildren to visit. However it reduces us to teeth-grinding, stony silence when the parents allow their children to spend fleeting milliseconds at the table before galloping off around the room while we try to eat food which has taken time, effort and love to prepare. Trying to correct

Dear Mary: how to leave a boring book club

Q. I am organising a funeral for a close relative and am puzzled that some people wish to attend the wake but not the service of committal at the crematorium. My view is that if you want to enjoy the wake, which will be a good party in a perfect country pub, then you should

Dear Mary: how can I make my untidy twin look better? 

Q. I have a public profile and have always looked after my personal presentation, but my identical twin has never bothered with hers. She wouldn’t dream of covering up the broken veins on her cheeks and her hair is quite grey and frizzy. Now I’m getting married and worry that my sister’s appearance could cause