Q. During lockdown I have done my level best to assist with household chores. Last week, while my wife was taking her daily constitutional, the washing machine finished its cycle and I took it upon myself to hang the clothes on the washing line. On her return, my wife upbraided me for hanging out her ‘smalls’ as she refers to them — somewhat ironically given their size. Is there a protocol for what washing can be dried on public display and what needs to be aired indoors?
— D.R.D., Northamptonshire
A. You did well to try to help but your actions must be regarded as at best unimaginative, and at worst passive aggressive. Even if your wife’s underwear consists of the tiniest strips of gossamer-soft silk, a public display delivers too much information into your neighbours’ hands. Think it through. Despite having an excess of willing palace staff, Princess Grace of Monaco always hand-washed and dried her own ‘smalls’.
Q. A cousin is getting married in 2021 and we have received our invitation. The invitation includes a great deal of information about the day but does not include the crucial information about who is invited. We have three children and the invitation is generic. We don’t want to accept, arrive without the children and find three empty places set and numerous other children there. Nor do we want to accept, arrive with the children and find no places set or any other children in attendance. We are close enough for me to ask, but I wonder if there is a more tactful way to approach the question?
— D.H., Worthing
A. Tone is important in tackling your cousin’s gaucheness. Write a cheery note thanking for the invitation and promising to respond formally. Add: ‘We’re presuming it’s just us — but just checking before I arrange child care!’
Q. A close family member has just taken delivery of a puppy and has set up (and included me in) a WhatsApp group which he is using to chronicle the puppy’s life. I am now being subjected to daily pictures of how said puppy is progressing, what it’s been up to, who it has seen, what it is playing with, where it is sleeping, etc etc. How do I remove myself from this group without hurting my family member’s feelings?
— Andy, Edinburgh
A. You can have your cake and eat it by leaving the group secretly. Swipe left on the relevant WhatsApp conversation to reveal a menu. From the menu, tap on More, then tap on Mute. You will be offered a choice of lengths of time you wish to avoid notifications for, e.g. one month, one year. You will no longer be bothered with notifications but will still retain the option to scroll through the updates — and the usual notification that would tell the group that you have left will not be triggered.
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