Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I stop the cleaner ‘helping’ with my jigsaw?

5 December 2020

9:00 AM

5 December 2020

9:00 AM

Q. Unlike my wife, I am tiring of Netflix. Wanting a project to occupy me during these long dark nights, I invested in a marvellous wooden jigsaw puzzle from Wentworth. The 1,000-piece fine art seascape arrived and I set up a table and chair in our library in anticipation of weeks of quiet gratification. I spent the first few evenings laboriously working on the edges but this week I have seen that there has been progress made without my input. My wife and I can only assume that the culprit is our cleaner of 35 years, thinking that by adding pieces she is ‘helping’. I know she would be offended if I say something — yet if I say nothing she will ruin the whole point of my project. Mary, what should I do?
— R.E., Lancashire

A. Arrange for your wife to confide in the cleaner that she, your wife, is in your bad books as she added some pieces to the puzzle. Instead of being grateful, you had behaved with uncharacteristic childishness and said it was a project you are determined to accomplish alone and that you had had a complete sense of humour failure when she tried to tease you about it. If the cleaner then confesses that she too has added pieces, your wife must cry girlishly: ‘Well! We’ll both know better than to try to help him out again, won’t we?!’

Q. In our part of Wiltshire we have a fresh fish weekly delivery service. The van arrives packed with succulent seafood but the object of many a housewife’s fascination is with the fisherman himself, regardless of his catch. I understand the same is true of a neighbouring county, where the object of affection is the log delivery man, and marital homes are being overwhelmed with enough logs for an unending winter. When I was young a Colonel Millar used to regularly visit with groceries from his village store. It never occurred to me until now that my mother’s weekly order may also have been linked to a mild pash. Mary, do you think this new version of Happy Families is just a passing lockdown phase or a new chapter in the Confessions of series?
— N.C., Stanton St Bernard, Wilts

A. You need not worry. This is merely women enjoying lusting after men who will never succumb to their overtures. Virus anxiety will see to it that only distanced deliveries will take place and no confessions will be necessary.

Q. My father needs a 24/7 carer and he and his carer are visiting us over Christmas. How can we explain that the drawing room is for family only without causing offence?
— Name and address withheld

A. I’m afraid your attitude needs to be refreshed. In the meantime, praise the carer for her relentless dedication and say you will personally volunteer to oversee your father when you are together in the drawing room and she must feel free to take a well-earned break at that time.

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