Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I stop other diners eating my chips?

18 January 2020

9:00 AM

18 January 2020

9:00 AM

Q. My husband and I are committed Brexiteers. For many years we have regularly enjoyed friendly bridge evenings with a couple who are Remainers, but who are in every other respect unexceptionable. On consulting my diary this morning I noticed to my horror that it is our turn to host our next evening on 31 January. How should I handle this potentially difficult situation, Mary? When 11 o’clock strikes should I break out the champagne or forgo our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate? Against the odds we have remained friends thus far.
— J.A., Suffolk

A. Social life has improved dramatically since the election, and fortunately 31 January will be one of the last opportunities for re-opening the old wound. No matter how great your enthusiasm for Brexit, there is no need for you to rub any Remainers’ noses in the (from their point of view) catastrophic result. Least said, soonest mended. Simply schedule an earlier-than-usual kick-off for the bridge party on the grounds that you have to get up early the following morning. In this way you can indulge in a private triumphalism after the Remainers have gone home.


Q. I teach a course on Game Theory at an American university and I am struggling to write appropriate questions for the class. The nature of the material lends itself to asking questions about relationship pairs. In recent months I have received complaints for not including enough hypothetical lesbian couples in my examples, but my (mostly young and female) students seem uncomfortable when I discuss these lesbian dates in class. How can I proceed?
— Name and address withheld

A. The quickest solution is to use the growing list of unisex names to illustrate your questions: no one in your class will be able to easily guess the genders of Frankie, Alex, Jean and Lindsay, for example, and with any luck no student will dare to enquire for fear of being labelled ‘genderist’. In this way you can get on with delivering your teachings without their having to be derailed by lengthy discussions on wokeness.

Q. How should one deal with the nuisance of a dining partner who, for dietary reasons, refrains from ordering chips with her meal, but then proceeds to eat half of yours? Crouching over one’s meal while deploying a protective hand — as learned at school — is not an elegant posture. Is there a better way?
— M.R., Tibenham, Norfolk

A. Experienced restaurant-goers, knowing what inevitably happens when chips appear on a table, always quietly order a second separate helping at the outset. (No need to run it past your co-diner/s.) If challenged, just blink blandly and pretend you want two helpings for yourself.

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