Q. An architect is overseeing some builders at my house. She is a perfectly nice woman but has a maddening habit of lowering and fluttering her eyelids when talking to me. I like to be able to look into someone’s eyes when discussing important details about permanent changes to my house but it seems rude to ask her to stop, even though I know she can, since she does not do it when talking to the bricklayers or carpenters. How should I tackle this?
— M.W., Gatwick
A. This body language suggests the architect finds you maddening and prefers to shield her vision when talking to you. Sidestep the problem by standing next to her, rather than opposite, during discussions. Meanwhile issue a subtle reprimand by constantly asking her to look up at things, e.g. when outside, ‘Is that a skylark/space station above us?’ Inside, draw attention to the ceilings. In this way you will gain the small satisfaction of at least briefly halting the fluttering.
Q. Our friendly and hospitable new local landowner has proudly informed me that he plans to replace a scruffy native elderflower hedge with smart beech. He wants every fifth tree to be a copper beech to give a zebra effect. How can I tell this well-intentioned man (who has no previous experience of land-owning) that the effort will be visually jarring to those of us in the village? I want to stay on good terms but I fear this is only the tip of the iceberg, as he has boasted of wanting to ‘tidy up’.
— Name and address withheld
A. Tell him that the classic advice for new landowners such as he is to do nothing at all for a year to allow him to make an environmental audit so that he can have the satisfaction of competing with his predecessor to see if he can better his record. This will give you time to work on him and introduce him to the concepts of appropriate countryside stewardship and ecological, rather than decorative, principles of planting.
Q. Although I have never experienced lesbian leanings, I really enjoy being frisked at airports, the more fully the better. To me, it is more relaxing than a full-body massage and it always gives me a little thrill to be found innocent. How can I ensure that I am always singled out for a searching? I find it so disappointing when I am just waved through.
— L.C., London W10
A. Just make sure that you always wear a bra with a large amount of underwiring, or a belt with metal fastening or studs, as all of these will set off the alerts. If you wear a belt the airport operative will also have to check that there is no weapon concealed underneath it, and this should extend the satisfaction of your customer experience as you transit security.
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