Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Is there a tactful way to tell a dear cousin she needs a lump removed from her face?

Plus: Tips for ordering station taxis; and how to get 90 euros back from a fellow holiday guest

22 August 2015

9:00 AM

22 August 2015

9:00 AM

Q. How can you tactfully tell someone that the large skin tag or blob they have grown in the centre of their forehead is disfiguring and should be removed? The person involved is a dear cousin who spends all her time do-gooding and thinking of others and is totally unvain. Her boyfriend, who should be the one to tell her, is one of those half-baked hippie types and would consider himself above commenting on anything so transient as ‘appearance’. No doubt he reassures her if she asks whether she should have it removed, but it is definitely spoiling her looks.
— Name withheld, Ludlow

A. Next time you see your cousin gasp in astonishment as though you have just noticed the blob and tell the white lie that by coincidence you have just had an almost identical blob removed from the back of your neck. Make a fuss about how identical your own blob was and how these blobs must run in the family. Do this as an excuse to warm to your theme so you can inform your cousin that they can be painlessly removed in a trice by GPs, with no need to even go to Harley Street. She’s bound to ask why you bothered if it was on the back of your neck, at which point you can answer, ‘Oh I did it for other people, not for myself. I know that lots of people think they look really revolting. You should definitely have it done for the sake of others. Shall I drive you to the surgery tomorrow to give moral support?’

Q. May I pass on a tip to readers who might easily make the same common mistake I have just made? Six of us were on the train from Glasgow, returning from a week’s holiday in a shared house in Mull. It was very late at night and we were all going to west London, so I ordered a cab on my own account. What I failed to do when booking on the app was to mention the six lots of luggage. When the cab came there was not enough room so one person had to volunteer to go and find his own taxi. The moral is — don’t expect a cab company to assume people arriving in Euston will have luggage: you have to tell them.
— M.W., Pewsey

A. Thank you for helping readers to avoid making the same mistake.

Q. I was on holiday in France and a fellow guest borrowed €90 from me when we went shopping in the market of Aix en Provence. I don’t think people should borrow money and forget to give it back. We are not likely to see each other again any time soon, but our mutual host sees her all the time and I feel she should know this woman is flaky and inconsiderate.
— C.D., Bruton, Somerset

A. Ring your host and say you want to pay back her friend the €90 you borrowed at the market. Since you’re unlikely to see her, can she give it to her and you will pay her back later? Then quickly scream, ‘OMG, I must be going mad, she borrowed the euros from me!’ Leave the ball in your host’s court.

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  • davidofkent

    Re the last one: A person who needs to borrow €90 when shopping has no intention of repaying. It’s the old “Oh my goodness, I’ve left my wallet at home.” trick.

  • Bruce Crawford

    The easiest way to repay the borrowed money, especially from someone you are unlikely to physically meet again is by mobile phone payment such Pingit. Send a polite SMS to the debtor informing them of your phone number enquiring how they enjoyed the shopping expedition, and the purchases made on the trip. Add in that you often borrow or lend cash with local friends and ensure prompt repayment by using mobile payments.

  • Andrew Smith

    A bit of old-fashioned, polite but firm directness would solve both 1 and 3.