Dear Mary

Dear Mary: I keep needing the loo during formal dinner parties – help!

3 February 2018

9:00 AM

3 February 2018

9:00 AM

Q. My wife and I have been invited to a small but formal dinner in the presence of some impressive fellow guests. I don’t want to disappoint her but I have developed a neurosis in situations where, if it would be a breach of etiquette to leave the table to go to the loo, I need to urinate frequently. I recognise the urgency is all in my imagination as nothing much results when I do go, but an accident would certainly be counterproductive to any social ambition.
— Name and address withheld.

A. See a doctor just in case but there is no need to miss out on a prime social event. Buy a pack of Tena Men Premium Fit Level 4 Pants. These cost roughly a fiver for ten from Boots. They are essentially pull-up disposable pants which, though un-bulky, have top-of-the-range padding. Practise having ‘accidents’ in them at home so you can be reassured how super-absorbent they are.


Q. I envied your correspondent with the l5-year-old attention-seeking daughter. We only wish our 15-year-old son wanted our attention. What’s driving his disapproval of us is a bit of Corbynism and a lot of contempt for our inefficiency with modern technology, but mainly his rejection of our ‘status signifiers’ within the home: its comfort and space, our having a cleaner, locking up while we’re out to protect our property (property is theft after all) and our insistence on eating together around the table at set times each day. He is the oldest of three. We all love him and want only for him to be happy but we have no respite because he’s at a day school in London and we are exhausted by his moralising. Any suggestions?
— Name and address withheld.

A. You can solve this problem in no time by taking in an 18- to 20-year-old male lodger. So long as the lodger is perceived by your son to be ‘cool’, he won’t want him to witness any querulous behaviour. And so long as you charge the lodger a peppercorn rent, it will be in his interest to serve as peace broker.

Q. A very close friend wants to go travelling in Africa with me this summer. While I had previously entertained the idea of embarking together, I would now prefer to go alone. Is there a way I can broach this without destroying our friendship?
— Name and address withheld.

A. If, after thinking about the matter at length, you have concluded that you would have a better time alone then you are well positioned to put the case to your friend that he or she would also be better off travelling solo. You need not be shifty or apologetic about it. Deliver the news of your decision in the excited tones that are appropriate for good news, and with any luck you will convince your friend that travelling alone is the better option — and not take your decision as a rejection.

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