Q. Our son and his girlfriend have announced their engagement and we are delighted with his choice. Our problem is with what I regard as the misjudged tone of hilarity among some friends, many of whom we have not heard from for years, who have telephoned to congratulate us. It’s the emphasis on how clever our son has been and how thrilled we must be — the subtext being ‘because you’re all such snobs’ — which rankles.
Yes, it’s a fact that our future daughter-in-law is a member of the aristocracy and has a bit of cash — but our son is, by any standards, an exceptional young man. Moreover, he is highly regarded in his professional field.
How can I graciously accept these congratulations without going on a bitter rant along the lines of: ‘So, what you’re saying is he’s been lucky to con someone out of his league into marrying him?’ Mary, this is beginning to get me down.
— Name and address withheld
A. Next time this emphasis on snobbery is evident, act daft and reply pleasantly: ‘Oh, how do you mean? Why should we be delighted?’ Get them to spell out their assumptions. Then, as though it had not occurred to you before, gasp: ‘Oh, so you think it’s an unequal match…?’ Then stay silent while they babble on.
Q. I love my husband to pieces and am sympathetic to the professional stresses he is now under, but he is used to bossing people around by day and now, working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, he has begun to boss me around. I fear our marriage will not survive.
— P.S., London W8
A. Simply reduce the time you are exposed to your husband’s bossy work persona by beginning to keep different hours to his. Get up three hours earlier than he does so you have some peace before he emerges to boss you about. At night go to bed three hours earlier than he does on the grounds that you are tired from having got up so early. In this way you should be able to reduce your one-on-one contact to only eight waking hours a day instead of the usual 14 or so. In the meantime, grant him a special wartime permit to be bossy and quietly humour him.
Q. May I pass on a tip to readers? With the lack of saladings from our kitchen garden due to the so-called ‘hungry gap’ at this
time of year before our own home-grown efforts bear fruit, we have found that dandelions can be viewed as a culinary gift rather than as an annoying weed. Place a flowerpot over them for a few days and blanche the leaves and they will become white and delicious and can be eaten as a salad. In wartime England Charles Hill, the Radio Doctor, recommended the leaves as a food.
A. Thank you for passing on this tip to readers.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10