Dear Mary

Dear Mary: My daughter’s new boyfriend isn’t on Facebook – how do I snoop?

10 March 2018

9:00 AM

10 March 2018

9:00 AM

Q. Recently I held a party at which some people were meeting each other for the first time. One social-climbing couple, who I do not know well and invited only to pay them back for their own recent party, subsequently emailed to ask for the contact details of the most influential and elevated of my acquaintance. I resisted replying, but then they emailed again suggesting that they hold a dinner and invite my social lions, along with my husband and myself. I am feeling somewhat under siege, as well as mildly outraged. But I know that if some friends I knew better (and liked more) had asked for the same details, I would have handed them over without a murmur. What should I do?
— Besieged, Derbyshire

A. The social world would lose all momentum if ‘climbers’ were unable to pick off the most elevated new people they meet at someone else’s house and invite them to their own. There is no crime in climbing itself — the climbees can always say no. What would be a breach of etiquette, though, would be to invite the new people without inviting the host who first introduced them. Since the climbers intend to invite you and your husband as well as the social lions, it would be absurd for you to withhold the contact details requested. First, as a courtesy, run their request past the prominenti in question.


Q. Following the discussions in The Spectator (by Messrs Jones and Sutherland) about quiet carriages on trains, might I suggest a simple remedy: Isolate mini earplugs (costing about £25) reduce noise by approximately 30 decibels and are favoured by professional musicians.
— K.K., Canterbury, Kent

A. Since you are known as a distinguished commentator on both music and new technology, readers are well advised to google the tidily sized product in question.

Q. My 34-year-old daughter has a new boyfriend who is not on social media. He’s not on thepeerage.com either. I do not want to be a helicopter parent and she would be furious if she thought I was snooping, but obviously I would like to do a bit of due diligence. What do you suggest, Mary?
— Name and address withheld

A. You can’t research online. If you know people in his Venn diagram, you can only find this out through industrial chatting and throwaway lines which prompt people to reveal more — e.g. ‘Are you talking about the John Smith who went to Oxford, who’s in his thirties… really good-looking and brilliant?’Response: ‘No. I didn’t mention John Smith. The only John Smith I know is that fortune-hunter who keeps trying to pick up heiresses at the bridge club.’ Unless you have reason to believe he has unsavoury intentions, you should stay out of it. Don’t make the mistake of going on Linked In. The system will alert him that you have been researching him.

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