social humour

Dear Mary: did our friends regift us out-of-date chocolates?

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Q. A university friend and I want to get an invitation to a very good shoot owned by a colleague…

Dear Mary: what should we do about a possible thief in our school dormitory?

9 March 2019 9:00 am

Q. I run a very small mail-order company from home. Recently I received an exceptionally rude email from a disgruntled…

Dear Mary: Should I ever tip at a private club?

2 February 2019 9:00 am

 Q. I am an artist living in the UK and was charmed to be invited by a fellow artist, a…

Dear Mary: How do I get an answer from my elusive publisher?

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Q. What is the current etiquette regarding chasing an opinion from a publisher to whom, by agreement and via a…

Dear Mary: my Botox treatments make me look standoffish. How can I appear warm?

8 December 2018 9:00 am

Q. A friend and I are giving a combined Christmas drinks party for 120 people. It’s being held at her…

Dear Mary: How can I stop chatty friends from phoning when I’m meant to be working?

1 December 2018 9:00 am

Q. May I pass on a tip to anyone facing large family house parties at Christmas? I always used to…

Dear Mary: What can I do about loud train snorers?

10 November 2018 9:00 am

Q. At every drinks party one will be in mid-conversation with another guest and someone will walk over and loiter…

Dear Mary: How do I stop my wife from sabotaging my anecdotes?

27 October 2018 9:00 am

Q. My wife and I have been married for 50 years. The marriage is basically sound but she has recently…

Dear Mary: My friend’s cooked breakfasts make me gag

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Q. My fiancé and I spend many great weekends with another couple. I am a vegetarian and quite particular about…

My long gossipy letters to an old friend get just a few words in response

13 October 2018 9:00 am

Q. An old friend shares aesthetic sensibilities and tastes in people. Hence we have sustained a highly enjoyable correspondence over…

Dear Mary: what do you say to neighbours who find you in your nightdress?

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Q. I recently gave a jolly dinner for eight friends (some old, some rather famous), all home cooking, ending with…

Was everyone a psychopath before 1909?

6 October 2018 9:00 am

My husband is enjoying Do No Harm, the arresting memoir of the brain surgeon Henry Marsh who was on Desert…

Dear Mary: How can I weed out the party ‘flakes’?

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Q. I invited four younger colleagues, all in their mid to late thirties, to go for a meal at a…

How should you deal with a competitive best friend?

11 August 2018 9:00 am

Q. Good friends, who moved away from our city suburb a couple of years ago, retain a pied-à-terre the better…

Dear Mary: How do you deal with a monologuing fellow guest on board a yacht?

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Q. A long-standing friend has an admirer of some means. He has invited her to borrow his fully staffed and…

Dear Mary: How does a Wimbledon ball girl deal with a disgusting player?

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Q. I’ve accepted an invitation to stay in a small house party in France. My host hasn’t mentioned who else…

Dear Mary: What is the correct form when you find someone hiding from you in a cupboard?

16 June 2018 9:00 am

Q. Is there a tactful way to ask people with whom you’ve been interacting on an almost daily basis over…

Dear Mary: How can I explain the cushion I must take everywhere to sit on?

19 May 2018 9:00 am

Q. I have incurable, inoperable back pain that severely hinders my ability to sit and necessitates my taking a cushion…

Dear Mary: our son’s future in-laws want to play social oneupmanship with us

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Q. We were about to send off to the printers the invitation for our son’s wedding (we agreed to do…

Dear Mary: How do we deal with our host’s sudden, terrifying rages?

7 April 2018 9:00 am

Q. Along with five of my favourite people, I’ve been invited again to what should be an idyllic house party…

How can I avoid power handshakes? They hurt my fragile knuckles

17 March 2018 9:00 am

Q. How does one avoid power handshakes? Twenty-five years of wicket-keeping have left me with pathetically fragile knuckles, and each…

Dear Mary: My daughter’s new boyfriend isn’t on Facebook – how do I snoop?

10 March 2018 9:00 am

Q. Recently I held a party at which some people were meeting each other for the first time. One social-climbing…

Dear Mary: how can we dissuade friends from visiting when one of us is ill?

24 February 2018 9:00 am

Q. Obviously one is delighted to have visits from close friends and family when one’s spouse is ailing, but how…

Dear Mary: How can we get our star friend along to dinner when he’s so busy?

17 February 2018 9:00 am

Q. We want to invite a rather exceptional friend to dinner. He lives nearby but he has a top job…

Dear Mary: What do you do when your secretary accuses you of not making a pass?

10 February 2018 9:00 am

Q. I am at the age where parts of the body start to go wrong, and I have a minor…