Q. I know it is rude to ask, when invited to a dinner party, ‘who else is coming?’ I assumed, therefore, that it would have been equally churlish to ask, when invited to a private piano recital to be staged in the garden of a large country house, ‘what is the repertoire?’ And so I just accepted. Now I am dreading being served up, for example, one of the atonal later works of Schoenberg or Webern, which would be torture to me. What to do if this happens again?— Name and address withheld
A. The best line to take is to immediately gush that you would have loved to come but you are busy that day. It is then fine to enquire about the repertoire. If it meets with your approval, ring back five minutes later to say you find you are free after all.