Q. We enjoyed the Christmas University Challenge series featuring mature graduates, some of whom were more in the public eye than others. I was a little surprised that one team captain, a broadcaster at that, introduced herself as Dame X. I was always told that I must not introduce myself as Mr and that it was a title bestowed by others and not by oneself. I expect the same to apply should I ever become a Sir. As that is extremely unlikely, I ask merely out of interest and for the benefit of our beloved and newly be-knighted Dame Joan of these pages. I am sure she knows the protocol already but I should hate to think less of her if my logic is incorrect.
— R.B., London SW3
A. Of course Dame Joan knows the protocol. Moreover, she needs no introduction but, should one be needed in some formal setting, no doubt she is always accompanied by an attendant who will spell out the details to spare her the immodesty of giving them.
Q. I am old and fit and only look frail, mainly on account of being thin and stooped. Despite being able to run up Tube escalators and chairs, my progress down my local high street in Kensington is invariably interrupted by concerned members of the public rushing up to ask if I need help. How can I discourage these well-intended but cumulatively demoralising overtures?
— A.C., London W8
A. Try clamping a set of large trendy headphones onto your head when in the high street. This will reassure well-wishers that you are self-managing.
Q. How do you stop a dog from ‘mating’ with your leg? I have a fairly eccentric neighbour who is so besotted with her new dog that she will not discipline it. Instead she coos and tells me I should be flattered as I am the only person it goes for like this. I shout at the wretched beast but obviously I can’t smack it.
— Name and address withheld
A. Next time you visit, wear an extra-thin pair of black or navy tights. The laddering which will inevitably take place will be all too visible, and may cause your neighbour to think again about her policy of not reprimanding the dog.
Q. My boyfriend gave dinner to 20 friends in a restaurant. None of these people is individually loud or showy-offy, but they became unpleasantly overbearing when all together. Mary, how could I have calmed my friends down?
— S.S., London SW3
A. One very large table does tend to bring the tribal triumphalist in otherwise pleasant people. Avoid it by taking a private room or just by dividing the group between three or four tables.
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