Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Should I return my pod coffee maker on moral grounds?

29 February 2020

9:00 AM

29 February 2020

9:00 AM

Q. I adore doing jigsaws and these days there’s an added bonus — by posting my progress on Instagram I can share the happy glow it gives me knowing that I’m reducing toxic screen-time habits. Recently I begged to borrow a magnificent 1,000-piece puzzle from a friend — a vast winter scene by Pieter Bruegel. Setting to, I succumbed to the meditative calm and satisfaction of puzzling. After two weeks of hard graft neglecting pretty much all domestic duties, the puzzle was finished, but with a piece missing! This maddening lost piece is an obscure blob of twiggy branch that nobody could love, but its absence mocks all my efforts. I cannot be sure it was I who lost it. Replacing the whole puzzle is going to cost more than £100 and I feel fairly confident I could return the puzzle to its owner knowing they’ll never attempt it again being such a monster commitment. What should I do?
— L.O.G., Petersfield, Hants

A. Jigsaw puzzling is the new low-tech virtue-signalling hobby. But you will be held responsible if the next person your friend lends it to is driven mad by being unable to find the one missing piece. Puzzlemakers Wentworth recommend the Jigsaw Doctor (, who can recreate the missing piece. His prices start at £10.99.

Q. My NHS dentist recently had to extract a large gold filling which had been there for many years. She replaced it with a white crown. I did hear a substantial clunk when the gold filling was dropped into the metal tray yet it was not offered to me to take away and I didn’t like to ask as it seemed rather a disgusting idea. Also I felt grateful to have an NHS dentist who charged a fraction of what the same thing would have cost in Harley Street. However, I wondered — what is the dental etiquette regarding the ownership of gold fillings?
— Name and address withheld

A. Dentists collect gold fillings and sell them as a job lot — which is obviously easier for a dentist to do than a non-professional trying to hawk a tiny nugget. However, the filling legally belonged to you and technically it should have been offered to you.

Q. A friend presented me with a coffee machine on my 21st birthday. I was thrilled but on closer inspection I realised that it uses non-recyclable coffee pods, which, given my caffeine habit, would produce an ungodly volume of landfill. Can I return the gift on moral grounds?
— L.B., London SW6

A. You are right to worry about the footprint left by your vices, but there would be a degree of sanctimony in returning the gift that would likely threaten your friendship. One can buy compostable capsules for all major brands of machine from companies such as Halo Coffee, so you needn’t choose between the planet and your friendship./>

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