Etiquette

Dear Mary: How can I make visiting friends realise it is a burden to take them to see the sights?

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Q. I am an impoverished artist living in a famously cheap European city, largely for reasons of economy. I love…

Dear Mary: A horrid woman accused me of hogging a spare train seat

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Q. I regularly travel on the Ashford-St Pancras train and usually put my case on the seat next to me…

Dear Mary: how can I resist peer pressure to go nude swimming?

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Q. I am going on a late holiday with a group of people who are keen on nude swimming, which…

Dear Mary: How do you persuade your drunk friend to leave a party when the taxi arrives?

29 August 2015 9:00 am

Q. How do you persuade someone drunk to leave a party when it doesn’t make sense for them to stay?…

Dear Mary: Is there a tactful way to tell a dear cousin she needs a lump removed from her face?

22 August 2015 9:00 am

Q. How can you tactfully tell someone that the large skin tag or blob they have grown in the centre…

Dear Mary: I don’t want perfumed people to hold my baby

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Q. Is there a polite way of not letting someone hold your baby? I love giving mine to people to…

Dear Mary: I was at the dinner party when the text came disinviting me

8 August 2015 9:00 am

Q. While renting in Rock last week, I ran into an acquaintance who invited me to join her large house…

Dear Mary: Dare I put my wife and three ex-mistresses all at the same table?

1 August 2015 9:00 am

Q. I have learned that someone I much admired in youth is about to become single again. I only have…

Dear Mary: How can I flirt on the train when a man who knows my old habits is watching?

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Q. Travelling on a train recently I happened to notice two former acquaintances, sitting together and very nearly opposite me,…

Dear Mary: unacceptable behaviour at a book signing

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Q. At a recent literary festival I attended a talk with a high-profile octogenarian writer. I had already bought her…

The wonderful, vanishing world of the handwritten letter

4 July 2015 9:00 am

In praise of the old-fashioned letter-writer

Dear Mary: My husband has shaved his head for a newspaper feature

27 June 2015 9:00 am

Q. My partner, a leading political commentator on a national newspaper, recently agreed to shave off his hair at the…

Dear Mary: Should I follow Cilla Black’s lead on disabled loos?

20 June 2015 9:00 am

Q. I was at the theatre recently and bumped into a well-known Liverpudlian crooner coming out of the disabled lavatory.…

Dear Mary: What to do when an old friend snubs you

6 June 2015 9:00 am

Q. What should I say the next time I run into a woman with whom I was at art school…

Dear Mary: What to do when a dinner guest won’t turn and chat

30 May 2015 9:00 am

Q. I felt uncomfortable during a dinner for 20 in a private house. The young man on my left had…

Dear Mary: How can I make my shy friend’s generosity plain?

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Q. I have a friend who can be shy and inhibited. Recently, he was invited to stay on a Caribbean…

Dear Mary: How to cope with London Library overcrowding

9 May 2015 9:00 am

Q. As a writer I find working at home too distracting. I am a longstanding member of the London Library…

Dear Mary: How to give a dinner party and still get an early night

25 April 2015 9:00 am

Q. I socialise in Shropshire every weekend and regularly give dinners which end at 2 a.m., but it’s a different matter…

Does the English language need a Norwegian lesson?

25 April 2015 9:00 am

‘Ten Norwegian phrases that don’t exist in English but should,’ said the headline. So I had a little look, as…

Dear Mary: How can I stop friends calling without warning?

18 April 2015 9:00 am

Q. I have moved from London to the centre of a historic market town, now becoming famous as a foodie…

Dear Mary: How can I keep my retiring husband out of the house?

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Q. For ten years, I have made a reasonable freelance income working from home. During this time my husband has…

Dear Mary: How I can I avoid being invited to any more country house weekends?

4 April 2015 9:00 am

Q. Someone I was at university with but hadn’t seen much of over the ten years since invited me to…

Dear Mary

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Q. When sending wedding invitations, does one put the full titles on the card, or can one just put, for…

Dear Mary: What can I do to make couples split the bill fairly?

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Q. I’m a single bloke now and for various reasons don’t foresee any change to that status. I have moved…

Dear Mary: When is it all right not to bring something to a dinner party?

14 March 2015 9:00 am

Q. A wonderful and generous woman invites me, on a regular basis, to dinner parties at her house. What is…