Q. Our daughter is going ahead with her wedding despite the restriction on guest numbers. Although it is a relief not to have to worry about (and pay for) the 150 people originally expected, another problem arises when the numbers are so limited that guests cannot get away from each other. We want to have five tables of six at the reception, but many of our older guests hold unfashionable views and would be incapable of self-censorship. Looking at all possible variants of the seating plan, I can see no way of sidestepping some incendiary juxtapositions. Some of the young guests are especially intolerant of diversity of opinions, and I fear that the need to assert their moral identities might trump any instinct to let things pass for the sake of harmony at such an occasion. I am dreading a cultural car crash which would spoil the day. Mary, what should I do
— Name and address withheld
A. Why not turn the dilemma to your advantage by taking a light-hearted approach and allowing the guests to laugh at themselves? Dispense of the traditional table numbers and named places, and instead invite guests to seat themselves at tables labelled either ‘Woke’ or ‘Unwoke’. Woke guests will be more than happy for their table identity to do the work for them in signalling their goodness so they can sit back and enjoy being in the company of compatible others. Unwoke guests are usually equally proud of their own resistance to change and so harmony will reign.
Q. How do you stop virus-denying friends from wandering vaguely inside your house when they have been invited to lunch in your garden and have agreed to answer any necessary calls of nature there too? We are shielders and it is too much of a faff to keep locking and unlocking the door we need to ferry food and plates through. I don’t want to be heavy-handed.
— J.McE., Watlington
A. Place a barricade of furniture inside the house at a point where you, as hosts, can still have freedom of movement to and from your kitchen, but any attempt by guests to reach the penetralia will be naturally halted and they will suddenly remember the agreement.
Q. Because we were self-isolating, our cleaner was not able to perform her usual duties and thus it fell to me to keep our toilet up to her high cleanliness standard. I found that the chrome fittings and hinges needed attention and wiping them with my wife’s cotton cosmetic pads impregnated with vinegar, followed by a damp cloth to remove any odour, gave excellent results. Please feel free to share this tip with your many readers.
— H.K., by email
A. Even as cleaners return, this is a useful eco tip. The chrome does indeed gleam afterwards./>
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