Q. Our friend lives far away, but comes to stay at her country place nearby several times a year. Some time ago, before she had wifi, we gave her the code for the rear entrance to our house so she could come in and connect to the internet. She made good use of this, and, in addition, gave the code to guests of hers who also appeared without a by-your-leave. This, we hoped, would stop when our friend got her own wifi connection, and indeed it did. However, her unannounced visits have continued, to the extent that she still just walks into the dining room when we happen to be eating, and sits down at the table, or comes into the sitting rooms, or wanders into the garden if it’s where we’re to be found. Changing the code means she asks for the new one, and now that a fault which no electrician seems to be able to repair means we cannot change it again, we appear to be stuck. It’s gone on too long, I know, but there must be a way out? By the way, we love this friend very much but love can get frayed and we’d like to avoid things unravelling.
— D.E., Burgundy
A. Ring your burglar alarm company and tell them you are about to have a short test session. Then set the alarm a-going for about five noisy minutes. Afterwards tell your friend that there is a sporadic fault, which seems to be triggered by the entrance code, and which cannot be repaired. You are both nervous wrecks as a result so would she mind telephoning before she comes over next time so you can just buzz her in, or go to the gates yourself.
Q. Our parents have stopped using their house in London, so my brother and I have moved in together. He works in government and is out all day while I work from home. Recently he moved his new girlfriend in and she too works from home. She is a good sort but her voice is intolerably loud when she is on Zoom, which is a lot of the time. Mary, how can I say something without causing division?
— Name and address withheld
A. Make a recording of your new housemate going at full tilt. Then make a landline call to your brother with the recording blaring away in the background. No doubt he will be enraged and demand to know why his girlfriend is speaking so loudly, to which you can reply innocently: ‘I think it’s just her style. She’s adorable. Don’t be cross with her. It’s lucky for her that she can work from home, though. It wouldn’t go down well in an office.’
Q. Your correspondent whose husband forgot to fasten his flies (Dear Mary, 6 February) may like to be reminded that there is one thing worse than forgetting to refasten one’s flies — which is forgetting to unfasten them.
— P.W., Dulverton
A. Readers’ minds will boggle.
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