Dear Mary

Dear Mary, what do you do when you can't read the replies to a wedding invitation?

Plus: I worry that talking to my dog is making me eccentric

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

23 May 2015

9:00 AM

Q. How can I discipline inconsiderate people who do not reply properly to wedding invitations? I am being driven demented by replies on cards from people who have scrawled, for example, what looks like ‘Tom M’ and ‘James P’, which do not correspond to anything on my list. I refused to spoon-feed guests by enclosing a reply card but, even if I had done so, it would not have mitigated the problem of scrawlers and nickname users. How do these young people manage to hold down jobs if they cannot comprehend that the mother of the bride, to whom they are replying, might not know who they are?
— J.P., Stratford

A. Bear in mind that the scrawling reflects the fact that in a digital age many of these young people will have had no recent experience of handwriting. Moreover, the vanity and self-importance encouraged by social media leads to the assumption that everyone will be as interested in Tom M and James P as they are themselves and will therefore know who they are. Turn these nuisances to your advantage. The lack of clarity will legitimise a telephone chase-up of those who have failed to reply at all. With juniors, this is likely to be the case in around 25 per cent of invitees right up until a couple of days before the ceremony.

Q. I was wondering what one should reply when asked, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I was caught out by this recently.
— M.E.B., Stoke by Nayland

A. First of all, it is a breach of etiquette to pose such a chippy question with its obvious intention to wrongfoot. The correct opening gambit is ‘You won’t remember me but we met at …’ Should someone put you on the spot like this, do not feed their paranoia by apologising. Instead you might reply, ‘Your voice is so familiar but I don’t have my contact lenses/correct glasses on so you’ll have to tell me who you are.’

Q. I live alone in the country for most of the week while my wife is working in London. Our children have left home and we no longer have a daily woman or gardener. Hence I have become used to ‘discussing’ things with our dog, posing rhetorical questions and suchlike. However, I have on recent occasions found myself talking to myself in our local high street and feel I ought to put a stop to this habit of thinking aloud when out and about in public. What should I do, Mary?
— C.B., Petworth

A. Don’t bother correcting this harmless habit of using the dog as a sounding board. It helps you to clarify your thoughts. Instead get into the habit of wearing mobile phone earphones when you go out to the high street. These devices are widely worn by people who want to remain hands free while prattling away. Just tuck the end into a pocket. If anyone hears you thinking aloud in future, they will simply assume you are on a call.

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  • bugalugs2

    “I was wondering what one should reply when asked, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’”

    Just say, “No, I meet too many people to bother remembering more than just the interesting ones …”

    • eclair

      Alternatively……”Oh yes, I always remember the odd looking ones…its your name that escapes me.”

    • Des Demona

      Or pretend they have started a singalong to the old Hot Chocolate number and sing it back to them?.

      • Callipygian

        Which number? You mean ‘You Sexy Thing’? I think that belongs on the old show Fantasy Island. There have been no sexy things on my planet in a good long while. Someone even commented that David Beckham is ‘a beautiful human being’. Clearly my standards are too high, then.

    • Dogsnob

      It started with a kiss.

  • justsomeone

    Dear dog lover, surely now that we live in a multicultural country (and this should be constantly celebrated), it’s time to recognise that having a dog and taking it out for a walk is culturally insensitive and divisive. I take it you do not live in one of the very diverse parts of London, otherwise you might already have learned the importance of adjusting to life in multi-culti Britain, in which case, consider yourself lucky. There will come a time when merely having a dog will be considered eccentric, or worse.

    • Reginald_Molehusband

      First they came for the dogs … then the bacon rolls ….

      • justsomeone

        then the pubs…
        🙂 I think some book couldn’t be printed with drawings of pigs and dogs due to ‘cultural sensitivities’.

        • Reginald_Molehusband

          Bacon of any description has long since disappeared from the food and coffee shop (it’s never been quite a ‘canteen’) in my employer’s London head office. (Along with anything recognisable as a biscuit – carrot sticks and fruit are compulsory now it seems).

          As a consequence – I have a habit of buying a large bacon bap and a tea on the way in, to munch while I check my email.

          I fear it is only a matter of time before I’m ticked off – or worse – for cultural insensitivity (or until the memo goes out banning bacon from the premises).

          You can still get a full English up to 10am in the canteens of the somewhat larger Reading and Manchester offices … but again I fear those days are numbered too …

          • justsomeone

            Terrible. Really.

            It isn’t even ‘multicultural’, when you think about it.

          • Dogsnob

            Transcultural. Multiculturalism is, by design, a process, not an end product.

        • Simon de Lancey

          It was Oxford University Press, which sent out a letter to an author telling them not to mention pigs or sausages or “anything else which could be perceived as pork” on the grounds that it might impact sales in the Middle East…. Israel was mentioned I believe.

          • justsomeone

            Yes, I just googled it. They claimed it’s in order to avoid offending Jews and Muslims but it’s only since massive numbers of Muslims have come here that these things happen… In other words, there’s no abstract principle involved. And it undermines the very concept of ‘multi’ culturalism. Some people were also kicked off a bus for singing a tv tune that mentions pigs.
            Dogs are next in line. They might be man’s best friend but you can be sure that man will not be their best friend. Even saying “man’s best friend” will be deemed “Islamophobic”.