Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I make visiting friends realise it is a burden to take them to see the sights?

26 September 2015

8:00 AM

26 September 2015

8:00 AM

Q. I am an impoverished artist living in a famously cheap European city, largely for reasons of economy. I love it when friends and family relieve the monotony of lonely days in my garret by coming to stay, but every time anyone does they want to go to all the museums and galleries, which represents a serious outlay of money for me. Not to mention the restaurants. Given that I’ve been to all of these places umpteen times, how can I tactfully suggest that my guests go alone?
—Name and address withheld

A. Why not invent the existence of an art and restaurants club which allows residents of the city a certain number of discounted visits per month? When visitors suggest a visit to a museum or restaurant, explain that you have already used up your discounts for that month. This will help friends and family to focus on the fact that you have visited said museum or restaurant three times already that month and therefore another visit might be less thrilling, and that payment is obviously a problem if you cannot go to the restaurant without a discount being applied. ‘But do let us pay!’ they will insist. 


Q. The other night I arranged to meet my brother-in-law at a private view in Albemarle Street. I adore him but we have very few friends in common so it was important I should get there on time so he would have someone to talk to. Unfortunately I did not realise the new gallery, at no. 38, was upstairs rather than on the ground floor, and I consequently arrived 30 minutes late to see him standing alone in the far corner. I tried to go straight to him, but was assailed by enthusiastic friends, which delayed me further, and he looked accusing. How could I have ignored these old friends without being rude?
— M.W., Pewsey

A. In this situation,the important thing is not to let your pace slacken. As the friends swarm up, take them by their hands and pull them along with you, saying ‘Come and meet my brother-in-law!’ 

Q. I have noticed my new Year 6 teacher does not know the apostrophe rule; he constantly writes ‘the soldier’s were sprawled across the battlefield’ or things like that on the whiteboard. He normally just does blotchy dots in between the other letter and the s. What should I do? I don’t want to say something wrong and offend him, but I think he might confuse me this year. Thank you.
— ‘Max Bramwell’ (not my real name), age 10 (my real age)

A. Ask an aunt to send you a postcard which coincidentally includes the word ‘soldiers’. Show the card to the teacher and ask is your aunt right, or is he? Was he making deliberate mistakes to see if the class was concentrating? (In this way you can save his face.) In any case you are now confused about apostrophes so could he schedule a special lesson on them? This will give him time to bone up on the topic.

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Show comments
  • pedestrianblogger

    The apostrophe rule is important and very easily learned. Innit, “Frances”?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Actually, it’s rather more complicated than you infer, innit!

      • pedestrianblogger

        Do you mean “infer” or “imply”? I make allowances for you but there are limits.

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          Stop bullying the boy! You know that certain foreign people (who started learning English late) don’t really like to use words with the “l” consonant!

          • pedestrianblogger

            Poor old Jackass. He does his best, I suppose.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            He was obviously kicked out of some boarding school in Oxfordshire 10-20 years ago, and has since been nursing a bizarre grievance against Britain! Talk about having a chip on the shoulder!

  • Edward Studor

    A teacher that doesn’t know how to use apostrophes correctly shouldn’t be a teacher.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      True, so true. Especially an English teacher.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “how can I tactfully suggest that my guests go alone?”
    Leave me out. I’ve been a dozen times, and trust me, it’s rubbish.

    • Suzy61

      ha,ha…far better to tell the truth.

  • DennisHorne

    The simple fact of the matter is, the teachers are no longer taught.

    They’re told it’s not important.

  • Edward Studor

    ‘I am an impoverished artist living in a famously cheap European city, largely for reasons of economy.’

    Ah yes, the poor romantic artist living in poverty in a garret. So above the peasants. Give up art and get a job.. You’re impoverished because you’re rubbish.

    • DennisHorne

      Have you an opinion about apostrophes too?

      • Edward Studor

        Yes. Are you so self-obsessed that you’re incapable of reading the few other comments (so far) on here? : )

        • DennisHorne

          No. The reason I asked was you wrote ‘your’ for you’re. I see you’ve now corrected it.

          However — and I believe now it’s acceptable to write ‘however’ at the beginning of a sentence — in answer to your earlier comment about teachers … if teachers who couldn’t use apostrophes correctly were sacked there wouldn’t be any where near enough teachers left to teach anything, let alone the correct use of apostrophes.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Those are probably otherwise pedantic things previously instilled into the future generations by means of the cane, or at least the ruler. British society has become feeble and weak these days because of the lack of it, it seems.

    • pedestrianblogger

      And you were doing SO well.

    • Enigmatic87

      Wow, you’re a miserable old fruit aren’t you? He’s obviously happy being an impoverished artist. And if you’re so wealthy why aren’t you off enjoying your yacht rather than spouting your misery here?

      • Edward Studor

        I’m being a realist and trying to help him. Too often young people are taken in by the romance of being a budding artist, living in a garrett, and living in poverty while skipping education or obtaining a skill.
        My advice would be to get two established, respected artists to review his works and tell him if it’s worth carrying on. If not, if he enjoys the bohemian life then carry on if he wants to but face the consequences.

  • Liberanos

    I’d be very surprised if the teacher mentioned above didn’t also pronounce ‘aitch’ as ‘haitch.’

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