Q. My wife’s father, who she adored, has died and she is to be his sole beneficiary. She intends to import a mass of low-grade ‘ornaments’ and unappealing furniture into our home. I’m afraid these things will, to be blunt, lower the tone of the house I inherited myself. I am fairly well-known in the art world – so it matters. Any advice, Mary?
– Name and address withheld
A. Enthuse to your wife that you feel her late father’s possessions, so redolent of his distinctive character, would get lost if inserted piecemeal into the existing decor of your house. Instead, why not make it a project to magically recreate the atmosphere of his former home by clearing a room and turning it over to his memory? She is bound to agree that placing all of the incoming ornaments and furniture into the one space would allow the inheritance to more powerfully resonate.
Q. I run a small charitable organisation in which endeavour I am given invaluable pro bono assistance by a web designer. My problem is that my husband keeps introducing himself to this young man as though they have never met before. I worry that my helper will be offended, thinking my husband must have deemed him not worthy of remembering. What should I do?
– L.G., Dorset
A. Next time you are working with the young man, ask him to hold on while you quickly ring your sister (or similar close relative). Within his earshot dial your own number and leave a message along these lines: ‘Please don’t be offended that X didn’t recognise you again. He hardly recognises me these days.’ Without further explanation, turn back to the young man and carry on with your work.
Q. Weekend guests in the country will need to charge their electric vehicles. If they do so, should the host’s electricity be provided gratis? The instincts of generous hosts will be to give the electricity, but over time this will represent a major transfer of the cost of weekending from guest to host, equivalent to buying a tank of petrol or diesel for one’s guests. A ruling from you will ensure that both hosts and guests know the form before the question arises.
– J.H., Raynham, Norfolk
A. As a host, you are prepared to pay for the other resources your guests will use – logs, hot water etc, to say nothing of food and wine. To ask for £15.10, the average cost of a full charge, will strike a contrastingly inhospitable note. Bear in mind that if they bring their own car, you are being spared the cost of petrol involved in their collection from and delivery back to the railway station. Don’t mention the cost, but if they insist on paying, then gratefully accept.
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