Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can we be sure our host gives us clean sheets?

5 September 2020

9:00 AM

5 September 2020

9:00 AM

Q. Some friends persist on displaying our email addresses in large address lists when sending out round robins to all of their friends. How may I tactfully ask them to blind copy me, GDPR and all that? In chain recipe and joke emails, before you know it, there are 200 addresses included: a hacker’s dream, I’m told.
— Name and address withheld

A. Quite right. You need to spell out, to wilful Luddites, the potential nuisances that could arise from not using the ‘Bcc’ box. Next time reply with an email which shows only your own name in the ‘To’ section. Open with a reassurance, clearly meant for all, that everyone on the relevant list is receiving this email, but you have included the other addresses in the ‘Bcc’ box to comply with data protection regulations as well as for the purposes of outwitting fraudsters.


Q. We are socialising again and a weekend looms at the house of a much-loved bachelor friend. Our problem is that he is not known for his high standards of hygiene. This won’t be an issue in the kitchen as I am a professional cook and he is more than happy for me to take the reins there. But Mary, how can I ensure that we have clean sheets to sleep in? I feel it would be a bit heavy-handed to arrive with our own.
— Name and address withheld

A. Ring before setting off and say how much you are looking forward to seeing him. Then add: ‘I know this is an odd question but do you happen to know what brand of detergent you use? I only ask because I’ve developed an allergy to certain brands — they trigger a maddening itching.’ Whatever reply he gives — he may even say ‘Oh well, no one else who has slept in them has complained’ — conclude with a sigh that it might be safest if you were to bring your own sheets.

Q. In 1966 in my boys’ school play, I took the part of the woman of Leicester in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. At a particularly dramatic moment I was to appear on stage to accuse Sir Thomas More of some heinous crime. Unfortunately, due to overenthusiastic prompting from a stage hand combined with the length of my dress, I tripped and fell flat on entering the stage, the effect of which was to reduce the audience of parents and boys to helpless laughter. With hindsight, the cross-dressing and female impersonation by a fat, spotty and bespectacled boy might have upset many people — but as I do not do social media, I am not sure how to atone and abase myself. Mary, your wise counsel would be greatly appreciated.
— A.S., Hungerford, Berks

A. Well done for coming forward to confess to this historic abuse. Perhaps the best step would be for you to write to all the institutions which have statues of you, asking them to take them down at once by way of atonement.

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