Q. Although I have met most of the fellow occupants of my building at residents’ meetings, we don’t socialise. However our newest neighbour, a Canadian, has now emailed all the other women in the building offering to open up her own flat for a bonding evening of drinks and nibbles and where we would watch a movie together. She has asked each of us to name some dates in 2016 when we would be free so she can co-ordinate an evening which suits everyone. From what I have gleaned at the residents’ meetings, I don’t fancy the sort of ‘hen night’ atmosphere which she might be envisaging. I don’t want to drink and eat nibbles and watch the movie she mentions and I can already tell there is only one other woman in the block I could conceivably have anything in common with. I can’t pretend I am busy for the rest of my life but neither do I want to seem weird or unfriendly.
— J.P., Edinburgh
A. It is a mistake to be stuck up about this. It is very good to bond with neighbours for all sorts of reasons. However you can bond ‘lite’ by spending only the early part of the evening with your fellow residents, although don’t admit that is your intention when you suggest some dates with enthusiasm. On the night, turn up as early as possible and be friendly as you sip your drink while engaging in general chat about jobs and transport. One hour in, you should receive a prearranged phone call from a friend. The code should be that if you are enjoying the event, you will say, ‘Can I ring you back, I’m at a party?’ If not enjoying it, you should say, ‘Well, as you know, I’m at a party but if it’s really necessary, I’ll come back and help you.’ Turning to your host, shake your head sadly and say what a shame you have to leave such a good party but you’ve got to go back to your own flat and counsel a flaky friend/niece who’s staying. When they ask what the problem is, reply in exasperated tones ‘Don’t ask!’ Then slip pleasantly away.
Q. My wife is obsessed by Tim Peake and repeatedly watches every broadcast he makes from space. As we both work at home and are together 24 hours a day, I cannot help being aware of this new passion. Am I wrong to feel jealous? Or is she indulging in a harmless fantasy of going into space? How can I put a stop to this compulsion?
— D.I., London W11
A. It is likely her harmless fantasy involves you, not her, going into space. No woman wants to see a man about the house all day. Marianne Faithfull moved out of the home she shared with Mick Jagger at the peak of his magnetism because he was there all day and she needed some head space. Give your wife some head space by getting a room to work in from £40 a day using the website Vrumi. Rent out a room in your own house to recoup the outlay: www.vrumi.com.
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