Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can girls avoid freezing in cold marquees?

Also, how to tell people they have a massive blackhead, and how to deal with good friends who are bad musicians

10 October 2015

9:00 AM

10 October 2015

9:00 AM

Q. What do you do when you are so cold at a party that you cannot enjoy it? At a recent 21st in Hampshire the theme was Summer of Love so I was in a beaded catsuit and my friends were in cotton minidresses with bandanas and thin velvet coats. But the theme Arctic Explorers would have been more appropriate. There were heaters in the marquee but they only made a difference if you stood in front of them and only one person at a time could do so.

The food and music were brilliant but all we could think about was how cold we were. Our host was cold herself but she kept the house locked up.

— B.G., London SW3

A. Nothing like this should happen if a proper party planner is employed. Bentleys says, ‘Women hate the cold and often arrive not wearing very much whereas men are dressed in twill dinner jackets. There is a notion that a tent will warm up when it is full of guests but it will not and it kills the party if the women have to go home.’For this reason, Bentleys prefer Thermobile heaters which duct warm air around the marquee. Meanwhile Bear Grylls advises that, since up to 50 per cent of body heat leaves through the head, you would have done better to wrap the velvet coats around your heads.


Q. On a recent sunny poolside holiday, we noticed that one of our new friends had a very visible ‘blackhead’ on his chest alongside a collarbone. He had clearly not noticed it, and would have surely dealt with it had he done so. That this unsightly beast was still there indicates that he is not a vain man. How, Mary, would you have let him know?

— E.B., London

A. Blackheads are maddening since humans have been programmed since apeman days to want to remove them as part of grooming. No one can relax while one is throbbing away on a fellow guest’s semi-naked body. The correct protocol is for one guest to scream with excitement as though she has just noticed the blackhead and for the others to cluster forward admiringly as they congratulate the offender on his lack of vanity. Before he has had time to think, another house-party member, already equipped with cloth or wet wipe, should put him at his ease by coming forward saying, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll do it. I’ve just removed one exactly the same size from my own collarbone.’

Q. Those who, like your correspondent of 3 October, have attended a friend’s ‘pretty dire’ recital, may like to know of the tactic of Nadia Boulanger on such occasions. Backstage after the concert, she would lay a hand on each shoulder of the performer, look them straight in the eye, smile and say, ‘My dear, you know what I am thinking.’

— D. C., Kyiv

A. Thank you for supplying this invaluable tip.

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Show comments
  • JohnB

    Humans programmed since apeman days to remove blackheads? Mary can’t be that old.

  • Dominic Stockford

    ‘pretty dire recital’? Don’t you mean ‘school concert’….

  • Andrew Smith

    These solutions are all little over-complicated. Whatever happened to the old practice of a friend pulling a friend to one side discreetly and intoning a quick piece of advice in a low voice – “blackhead on the collar bone old chap” before sidling off.

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  • ADW

    “Meanwhile Bear Grylls advises that, since up to 50 per cent of body heat leaves through the head”

    Bear is talking out of his hat (which isn’t keeping him as warm as he thinks). This is only because our heads are usually exposed. If we just exposed, say, our thighs, and covered our heads, the same thing would happen.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Not true: the brain is one of the biggest consumers of energy in the body and produces a disproportionate amount of heat which, if you’re cold, you need to conserve!

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