Q. My granddaughter Jane has been asked on a date to the Wolseley by George (both pseudonyms). Although she finds him attractive, and is flattered by the invitation to an institution like the Wolseley, she can’t bring herself to go because of his intensely bad body odour. Mary, how can she accept the invitation while also getting him to promise to wear deodorant?
— Name and address withheld
A. Deodorant wouldn’t crack the issue. It sounds like George needs a full hose-down — and probably for his trainers to be binned. Let Jane accept the invitation but suggest that they ‘make a night of it’ since you, her grandmother, have given her two vouchers for a Turkish bath treatment in a luxury hammam near the Wolseley: ‘Let’s go there first!’ If he agrees, then you the granny must buy the tickets. Males and females will be segregated so Jane need not worry about looking unattractive with sweat coursing down her face. George will emerge from the experience in a user-friendly condition and Jane can take the relationship one step further.
Q. I run a small business supplying creative services. All the relationships with clients are face-to-face and supposedly civilised — except that many like to delay payment. This is awkward. Mary, how can I ensure clients pay me promptly?
— Name and address withheld
A. Invent a financial controller and set up a new email account in his or her name. Let this persona do the bill chasing. In this way you need never mention the awkward subject of payment yourself and you can keep harmony between you and your clients.
Q. Our daughter, aged 25, is working in London. When she comes home at weekends we are driven to distraction by the fact that she cannot seem to stop looking at her iPhone or concentrate on anything we say to her. Any suggestions. Mary?
— A.J., Lymington
A. Go to sea. Phones soon run out of battery and unless there are solar chargers on board she will soon have to switch her attention to you. Alternatively identify a spot in your local area where there is no signal. Drive her there and park.
Q. Please can I offer this tip to readers? Alcohol hand gel, which we were all encouraged to stockpile last year, can be used to clean small stains from clothes.
— L.P., London SW1
A. This tip is most useful. In yesteryear the hand-sized stain remover Dabitoff was ubiquitous on hall tables. It would be wielded to instantly remove all manner of spillages and crusting from school blazers, dark suits and the like. The formulation and packing has sadly changed but now we can repurpose our hand gels to achieve the same results.
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