Dear Mary: how do I get talking to a pretty woman on WhatsApp?

Q. Scrolling through my WhatsApp contacts, I have found a name I don’t recognise but when I click on the profile I can see it is a very pretty girl. I suspect I may have met her on a night out when I might have had too much to drink which would account for me not remembering who she is. Because I don’t know how long ago this meeting was, or even where it was, I’m not sure if I can now send her a message and start a conversation. What do you think, Mary? – E.L., London SW11 A. Send a lunchtime WhatsApp saying, ‘I’m standing outside the Wolseley

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 the children evokes defensive retaliation from their parents. We love having the family round. How can we tackle this diplomatically? – Name and address withheld A. Say nothing. The grandparent role is to love unconditionally and effect corrective behaviour by more subtle means than criticism. Tackle this with a two-pronged attack. Introduce them to food

Dear Mary: how should a newly single, fiftysomething man make a pass?

Q. My friend kindly arranged for me to use her freelance gardener and, despite the gardener working only four hours a week, she has transformed my garden. Today I asked if she could do any more hours and she said only on an ad hoc basis. This evening I received a message from another friend asking for the gardener’s number, as hers has left. She has a superior garden to mine and I am terrified this wonderful gardener will give the ad hoc hours she has promised me to this potential new employer. I have tried to prevaricate but I can’t lie to this lady. Mary, what to do? –

In our narcissistic age, nothing beats good manners

Last week, a 20-year-old student came into my office, looking for work experience this summer. He was so polite — in a shy, understated, non-oily way — that I was very keen to help him. It was like meeting a time-traveller from the 1950s: no showing-off, just a gentle display of intelligence teased out from behind his veil of self-effacement. He even washed up his cup after I’d told him he didn’t need to. I must introduce a Teacup Test for future interviewees, to see what they do with the cup at the end of the interview. It’s inspired by the Escalator Test, invented by a colleague at the Evening