Q. Might I suggest an alternative solution to E.B. of London’s problem (3 October) about the person sporting a ‘maddening’ blackhead at a poolside party? Surely a more tactful way of drawing the man’s attention to the blackhead would have been for E.B. to pretend she thought it was an insect that had landed. On failing to shoo it away, she could have exclaimed that it might be a tick and he should remove it and then offered to assist in this operation. The nuisance could thus have been dealt with without the poor man even discovering that he had an embarrassing zit.
— J.P., Stratford upon Avon
A. Thank you. The first part of your solution is good but the second part is unusable, since a tick bite can be such a real menace. Make it absolutely clear what you removed, but refer to it as a ‘comedo’, the more glamorous scientific term for blackhead.
Q. I have an elderly acquaintance whom I have been meaning to phone for ages. The problem is that it is impossible to bring the conversation to a close. Last time I called this excellent lady, I arranged with my husband to ‘rescue’ me at a given time by pretending there was someone at the door, but even that didn’t work. I know that the Queen has a trick of moving on by making people feel that they, not HM, have terminated the conversation. Do you have any idea how this works when she wants to get off the phone?
— Name and address withheld
A. Try this method. Ring tomorrow morning and say you can’t talk now but you are longing have a really long chat and want to book her in for one. Will she by any chance be free later that morning as you will have a slot between (for example) 12 and 12.15 p.m., when somebody is arriving to see you? Give her longer if you like but when the time slot expires, there is nothing to stop you ringing your own doorbell so she can hear it.
Q. My daughter (aged 30) recently got married and I was delighted but surprised to receive so many letters from her young friends thanking me. In my day, one didn’t thank for a wedding. Has the etiquette changed?
— M.R., Milton Keynes
A. Traditionally, thank-you letters were not expected for weddings from guests — all of whom had been invited (technically) by the bride’s parents. The bride was, and is, expected to thank promptly for presents. With social media and the fact that so many brides now do their own thing, the etiquette has become less clear, but one thing is certain — no one objects to being thanked. Equally, while in the olden days a bride would thank everyone for the presents whether she knew them or not, today the bridegroom may well do it if he knows the present-giver better than the bride does. This must be counted as a good thing.