Etiquette

Dear Mary: how can we dissuade friends from visiting when one of us is ill?

24 February 2018 9:00 am

Q. Obviously one is delighted to have visits from close friends and family when one’s spouse is ailing, but how…

Dear Mary: How can we get our star friend along to dinner when he’s so busy?

17 February 2018 9:00 am

Q. We want to invite a rather exceptional friend to dinner. He lives nearby but he has a top job…

Dear Mary: What do you do when your secretary accuses you of not making a pass?

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Q. I am at the age where parts of the body start to go wrong, and I have a minor…

Dear Mary: how do you deal with a daughter who has gone vegan to get attention?

27 January 2018 9:00 am

Q. Several friends have reached an age and wealth that means they take unreasonably long holidays or even entire gap…

Mary solves your problem: Is it cultural appropriation for an English person to attend a Burns supper?

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Q. Should the lady or the gentleman have the banquette in a restaurant? I’ve been brought up to believe that…

Mary solves your problems: A secret school scrapbook discovered by the housemaster

6 January 2018 9:00 am

Q. At my son’s school the boys keep a clandestine leatherbound book known as ‘The Bible’, a sort of Rogues…

Dear Mary solves problems for Vince Cable, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lord Archer and Ruth Davidson

16 December 2017 9:00 am

From Sir Vince Cable MP Q. I have an unfulfilled ambition to win a national title for ballroom dancing in…

Mary solves your problems: What do you say when a screaming child is ruining your lunch?

9 December 2017 9:00 am

Q. My wife and I were having lunch in our local bistro. A boy of about two was wandering around…

Mary solves your problems: what’s the right response to a request for no presents?

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Q. We have reached the age when we are receiving invitations from our friends for Golden Wedding celebrations. All the…

Mary answers your problems: The tactful way to get rid of a drunk guest

25 November 2017 9:00 am

Q. I was recently at an informal dinner given by two dear friends, but returned home seething with rage against…

Mary solves your problems: A family friend stays over all the time – but never actually asks us out

11 November 2017 9:00 am

Q. We have a family friend we don’t see nearly as much as we’d like. This is because he’s so…

Mary solves your problems: A friend lent me a treasured keepsake – now they have the gall to ask for it back

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Q. A newish friend who has very good manners lent me a DVD of his grandfather at the Olympics. I…

Mary solves your problems: How can we avoid eating poisoned mushrooms foraged by a friend?

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Q. We have moved from London into a rural area where we are preparing for the first visit of a…

Dear Mary: am I in danger of being seen as an ‘Instagram creeper’?

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. How can I avoid becoming seen as an ‘Instagram creeper’? My well-meaning niece tells me that I’m in danger…

Mary solves your problems: Should I tell the hostess if I see a rat on her patio?

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. My partner and I recently had two close friends — one a Peer, the other a former Member of the…

Mary answers your problems: is it acceptable to serve a puff pastry circle on a steak pie?

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Q. Some rather flashy new neighbours of ours — I won’t mention their names as his will be familiar to…

Mary solves your problems: We forgot our guests’ names and couldn’t introduce them

26 August 2017 9:00 am

Q. I am in my seventies and my husband is in his nineties. The other night we had two couples…

Let’s put down the cameraphones and start living

5 August 2017 9:00 am

It’s time to put down the cameras and start living

Lots of my friends are turning 40 – how do I cope with the boring, drunken birthday dinners?

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Q. I’m shortly to host a very large family gathering. Everyone will be related to the same ancestor, so we…

Dear Mary: what’s the etiquette when security gates don’t just open?

15 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. Is there an etiquette regarding security gates? My wife and I were invited to dinner by new neighbours who…

Dear Mary: our friend’s new wife is a horror show. How can we avoid her?

8 July 2017 9:00 am

Q. ‘Alfred’ is a friend of 30 years’ standing who has just married for the first time. Alfred retains all…

How can I get the buyer of a supermarket to notice my products?

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. I import a range of very high-quality food products from Europe into the UK. They are regarded as the…

My husband keeps pointing out birds in our garden but I can’t see them

17 June 2017 9:00 am

Q. Having retired, my husband is now an enthusiastic observer of the goldfinches, greenfinches and bullfinches in our garden. Their…

Dear Mary: how do you excuse yourself from a dull conversation?

20 May 2017 9:00 am

Q. My mother always told me that only boring people are bored. However she never got stuck at a drinks…

How do you reject someone but still spare their feelings?

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Q. May I pass on a tip to readers wishing to reject a hopeful romantic partner without hurting their feelings?…