Q. We have two granddaughters working hard and happily at university. It is our pleasure to give them some cash at regular intervals for books, rooms, foreign travel and, we hope, a lively social life. But we have just learned that they have each come under the influence of a new political leader, to whose party and cause they are making serious donations of cash. While appreciating their right to do what they want with our gifts, it is far from our wish to support a man whose political views we reject. Should we take the obvious sanctions?
— Name and address withheld
A. I consulted a member of my panel of experts with your vexed query. My advisor is a pillar of probity and wisdom and professionally involved in money management. He says: ‘You should treat this one with a straight bat. If the grandparents reduce their funding and the girls realise why, they will embrace their rebellious political affiliations all the more. I think the grandparents ought to talk to the girls and say that, whatever happens, they are going to continue handing over cash but the girls should know that if they give money to Corbyn, or whoever else the undesirable is, it will not be what they wish. This moral blackmail should be enough.’ I concur with his opinion.
Q. I am staying in a large rented house with my American cousin who is well-off and extremely generous. We are co-hosting a small drinks party and I want to make it clear to the guests that I am paying half, otherwise they will assume that yet again she is footing the bill. How do I do this without appearing vulgar?
— E.S., Key West, Florida
A. Americans adore giving speeches so why not brief one of your confidants to address the company. He can announce that he would just like to express his gratitude to both hosts for their generosity in throwing the party.
Q. A vague and disorganised neighbour asked me to dinner by text. I accepted immediately but, as the time approaches, I have heard nothing to confirm and worry she has forgotten. How can I check I am still invited without seeming pushy or desperate?
— F.M., Harrow
A. Send a cheerful text offering to bring a pudding.
Q. Our daughter has had three children in four years of marriage. This is none of anyone’s business, yet we are asked intrusive questions such as whether she does not believe in birth control. It is as though such an output must be a mistake rather than a cause for celebration. How should we put these impertinent people in their place?
— Name and address withheld
A. You could reply: ‘Well, it is of course physically draining for her, but she knows that with genes like hers, it’s her duty to society.’
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