Dear Mary

Dear Mary: why are young women dyeing their hair grey?

Plus: young women who streak their hair grey; and new neighbours who try to poach your home help

7 November 2015

9:00 AM

7 November 2015

9:00 AM

Q. I have lunch once a month with an old university friend. Over the years we have both thickened out but I now make a serious effort to curb my appetite. I will usually order one glass of white wine and a starter-sized mozzarella salad, but my friend invariably has the main course, the cheeseboard and three glasses of wine followed by a digestif. We’ve always split the bill but now that my ‘share’ is, for example, £20 to his £120, I have started to feel a tiny bit bitter about paying £70 — especially since I don’t think he has noticed the anomaly. After all this time, how can I suggest we divide the bill differently, without giving the impression that I have been harbouring a resentment? I love my friend and I know he’s not exploitative, it’s just that he doesn’t think about these things and hardly notices what I eat.
— Name and address withheld

A. Bring a slim friend to one of the lunches. Rehearse her to say, as you sit down, ‘Is it all right if we each pay just for what we eat, rather than splitting the bill three ways? I deliberately haven’t got much cash on me. It’s my way of making sure I don’t overdo it because I’m naturally very greedy.’ This will allow you to cry: ‘What a brilliant idea! I’m going to start carrying a tiny amount of cash every time I go out to lunch so I can curb my greed too.’ Then turn to the bachelor — ‘And you must promise you won’t lend me the money if I go over my limit.’


Q. I am troubled by the sudden appearance, in fashionable areas of London, of young women with long shanks of hair dyed grey. I believe this unfortunate trend originated with Lady Gaga. How may I dissuade impressionable young godchildren from sporting this horrible hairstyle?
— C.C., Pershore

A. When you next chance on one of these victims of fashion, scream and clutch your hand to your heart. Then gasp, ‘Your hair gave me such a fright! Now I realise you must be still in your dear little Halloween disguise.’ Smile sweetly and continue the conversation normally. The young will soon realise the error of their ways.

Q. Newly minted new neighbours came to dinner the other night. Afterwards one of these went through to the kitchen and I glimpsed her through the door talking to my butler and cook as she openly tried to poach them. Fortunately my couple are loyal, but how could I have reprimanded this woman, as I feel she should know it’s unacceptable?
— A.P., Malmesbury, Wilts

A. You might have said ‘It was so nice of you to thank my couple. None of my other guests ever dares to because of how it might look to me.’ She would have inevitably have asked what you meant. You would have replied: ‘Round here, poaching a couple is considered the ultimate breach of etiquette — and no one would normally risk it.’

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Show comments
  • Patricia

    If I was out with someone and I ate my way through the menu while they had a small amount, somehow, I would just know that splitting the bill is grossly unfair. I don’t believe this “friend” has not notice the anomaly.

    • Sanctimony

      No… but he’s getting fatter and richer by the month….

  • MacGuffin

    Surely after daring to speak privately to the dinner guest, ‘the couple’ should be sacked forthwith as a matter of principle, despite the inconvenience that would ensue?

    Without references, of course. Let them starve for their disloyalty!

    • Sanctimony

      I think you are probably being rather harsh on the staff… do you have much experience of dealing with servants ?

      My great-grandmother always made a point of asking her butler what he thought of her guests…. you see, she had moved from ‘trade ‘ into the supposed gentry and had little confidence in her own opinions or judgements….

    • Ahobz

      Nice way to get yourself to the employment tribunal.

  • Clive

    What does ‘greedy’ actually mean ?

  • David Booth.

    “….I don’t think he’s noticed the anomaly”
    Oh I think he has, but is perfectly happy to continue to have a virtual free meal every month.

  • Colin56

    The ‘old university friend’ is either completely insensitive or taking the piss. I’d bet on the latter. Mary’s roundabout solution will achieve nothing: a bit of straight talking, between friends (if the ‘friendship’ is genuine (which i doubt) should sort things out. If not, the ‘friendship’ was a bogus way of getting a nearly free meal all along. It’s an age-old scam and you’re being taken for a fool.

    • KingEric

      Quite right. Sounds a bit pathetic repeatedly being taken for a ride like that.

    • post_x_it

      “if the ‘friendship’ is genuine (which i doubt)”
      Quite! This topic is best tackled head-on and openly, and I can’t imagine that a genuine friendship would suffer any damage from it.

  • Davedeparis

    The “go-garu” girls were doing the same weird thing in Japan back in the early 2000s.

  • jim

    Once women were let off the leash it was inevitable that their emotional incontinence would wreak havoc. Hair dye is the least of the problems dumped on us by the modern empowered gobby young miss.

    • Tamara Vitale

      Congrats on your blatant misogyny and sexism!

    • Sanctimony

      It’s the close-cropped ones with Doc Martens that give me the heebie-jeebies …

  • Landphil

    A secretary did that in my office nearly 40 years ago – she looked like a battleship under full steam.

  • Tamara Vitale

    I’m sorry, but, wow. Any personal issue that anyone takes with someone else’s hair color should take a laaaaarge step back and take a very long, good at themselves and their priorities. I don’t have grey hair myself, but this is so unbelievably rude that I’m– frankly– left a little speechless.

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