Etiquette

Dear Mary: How can I stop my neighbour pacing the ceiling?

7 February 2015 9:00 am

Q. The woman who lives above me has insomnia and walks around all night. I’m also disturbed by her rather…

How to stop being scared of full stops

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Modern manners and the fear of the full stop

Dear Mary: How can I stop friends staying after a 21st?

24 January 2015 9:00 am

Q. A neighbour is hosting a party for his daughter’s 21st birthday. Adequate provision has been made for anyone who…

Dear Mary: Someone told me their extraordinary life story, but I tuned the whole thing out

17 January 2015 9:00 am

Q. After a recent dinner I found myself on a two-seater sofa enjoying the restful company of a woman who…

Dear Mary: How will Joan Collins introduce herself now she’s a dame?

10 January 2015 9:00 am

Q. We enjoyed the Christmas University Challenge series featuring mature graduates, some of whom were more in the public eye than…

Dear Mary: What can I do about my neighbours’ downmarket recycling?

3 January 2015 9:00 am

Q. Since recycling was introduced in our village, the wall at the end of our drive has become the depositing…

Dear Mary solves problems for Jim Broadbent, N.M. Gwynne, Jesse Norman and others

13 December 2014 9:00 am

Once again Mary has invited some of her favourite figures in the public eye to submit personal queries for her…

Dear Mary: Do I really have to take my shoes off indoors?

29 November 2014 9:00 am

Q. There has been a marked increase in the number of people who have pristine flooring and are so keen…

Richard Madeley’s diary: Forgetting Tom Conti’s name, and other harrowing experiences

22 November 2014 9:00 am

Oh God, it’s happened again. Another evening where I’m surrounded by people I know personally or have interviewed, and I…

Dear Mary: How to talk to friends whose book you haven’t read

15 November 2014 9:00 am

Q. What is the correct thing to say to a writer friend whose book you haven’t read? I buy most…

Dear Mary: How can I stop my future son-in-law saying ‘must of’

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Q. My future son-in-law has been successfully house-trained in the use of upper-middle-class English over the years that he has…

Dear Mary: Is there a tactful way to shorten the guest list for my 21st?

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Q. I am organising my 21st birthday party at our family house in Italy. It is a fantastic location, but…

Dear Mary: Learning to love a man who whistles through his nose

25 October 2014 9:00 am

Q. What can you do when disorganised friends say they would love to come to a concert with you but…

Dear Mary: Can I run out on an apprenticeship for my dream interview?

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Q. I have been trying to get an apprenticeship in fashion for over a year without success. I just had…

Dear Mary: Is it an insult to be given anti-ageing cream?

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Q. When someone gives you anti-ageing cream as a present, is that an insult or a compliment? — A.O., Provence…

Dear Mary: Show me the tactful way to pay for a lift

23 August 2014 9:00 am

Q. My neighbour is really lovely and always helps me chainsaw trees. He used to be the herdsman at the…

Dear Mary: What do we do with a teenage guest who hogs the bathroom?

16 August 2014 9:00 am

Q. We have taken a flat in Edinburgh for a month and a young girl, temporarily homeless and a friend…

Dear Mary: Help me hunt down my priceless missing book

9 August 2014 9:00 am

Q. A scholarly book of great importance to me appears to have gone missing from my library. It was heavily…

Dear Mary: How to accept wine refills at parties without getting drunk

2 August 2014 9:00 am

Q. At a drinks or a dinner party, when very attentive waiters are hovering, I tend to let them keep…

Dear Mary: How can I tame my brother’s savage table manners?

26 July 2014 9:00 am

Q. I live far away from my brother and his family, but went to stay with them recently for the…

Dear Mary: Do men really have worse table manners when they’re on their own?

5 July 2014 9:00 am

Q.  My 16-year-old son, who has recently had his first experiences of Clubland, has observed to me, his mother, that…

Dear Mary: How can I make my polite English husband interrupt like a German?

24 May 2014 9:00 am

Q. My dear English husband has never mastered the knack of timing his interventions in conversation. He hesitates politely, and…

When did it become OK to be boring?

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Being boring was once the worst of all social sins. Now it’s practically compulsory

Dear Mary: How can I spike a gossip-pedlar’s guns?

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Q. On arrival at a top level dinner, I was surprised to see at the table a woman who, I…

Dear Mary: My teenager insists on an NHS operation. What can I do?

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Q. Our son, aged l6, has a medical condition which, although not life-threatening, requires surgery by a specialist to pre-empt…