Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I handle the dreaded ‘B word’ at supper parties?

29 June 2019

9:00 AM

29 June 2019

9:00 AM

Q. I have lost many friends and acquaintances by discussing Brexit and finding fundamental differences of opinion. Recently I have had to limit supper party invitees according to their point of view to avoid heated disagreements (and more) over the table. Have you some advice for opinionated friends, and indeed the whole country, on such social divisions please?
— Name and address withheld

A. Dinner parties have become a problem in their own right. The inevitable topic will come up. No one will change their minds and bitterness will only be exacerbated. Much better during the current emergency to give drinks parties only, with substantial snacks lying around. Tell guests they will probably not need to go out to dinner afterwards. As long as people are not imprisoned at the table next to someone with whom they disagree they will be much happier. They can let off steam by having brief exchanges with ‘Brenemies’ and then move towards someone like minded. Thereby two sorts of harmony can reign.

Q. I have a new puppy. He is fairly well-behaved except that he will not stop chewing the edge of his dog bed. I have used every recommended method including the nasty stuff you get from pet shops at vast expense but nothing works. What do you suggest?
— L.G., Fosbury, Wilts

A. Pour some Tabasco into a cereal bowl and paint it around the edge of the bed with a pastry brush. You will soon see an end to the nuisance.

Q. I’m an interior designer and almost invariably after I’ve been to someone’s house for supper or a party, the hostess will take me aside and say: ‘Oh darling! What colour scheme would you recommend for this room?’ As I usually charge for this kind of advice I’m at a loss as to what to say.
— Name and address withheld

A. You might reply that you never like to give advice after you’ve been drinking as it tends to distort your judgment. Say: ‘Why don’t you make an appointment with my assistant and I’ll come round for a proper discussion?’ You can leave it to your assistant to reveal that a charge will be involved.

Q. Re your problem getting guests to go in to dinner at a wedding (Dear Mary, 22 June). At both my children’s 21sts we got a selection of adults to walk slowly in a semi-circular line with their arms outstretched, herding guests towards the dinner tent.
— S.T., Chirton, Wilts

A. Thank you for contributing this helpful tool-free alternative method. My own suggestion was to stand at the edge of the garden with a hose, spraying dangerously close to — though not actually on — the guests until they are systematically driven in.

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