Dear Mary

Your problems solved

11 February 2016

3:00 PM

11 February 2016

3:00 PM

Q. I recently rediscovered a wonderful 22-year-old godson. He came to shoot for the first time and was a marvellous guest — impressing others to the extent of even receiving a potential job offer. He has wonderful manners but although he thanked us profusely while under our roof, he has not as yet written his thanks. Shooting thank-you letters are still much appreciated by hosts. It does not matter a jot to us that he has not written, as he is now ‘family’. However, as godmother, I worry that his maybe not knowing that a handwritten thank-you letter for a shooting invitation is de rigueur could jeopardise his success elsewhere. How can I tactfully convey this?
— O.A., Suffolk

A. Email the boy promptly. Say ‘I must have given you the wrong postcode. Would you mind terribly writing again? As always, we look forward to including your memories of the day in our Game Book along with those of all the other guns.’ Make contact again to confirm the letter’s arrival and gush over its contents. Enlarge along the lines of ‘Not only do they mean everything to the host, they also form a vital record for social history in an age when so few written records are kept. Otherwise it’s all ephemeral… And especially so for the poor guns who forget to write…’.

Q. I am 22 and don’t know how to vote in the EU referendum. I have a degree but the arguments are too complicated. What worries me is how are the rest of the populace — many of whom are, theoretically, less intelligent than me — going to be able to vote in their own interest? What should be done, Mary?
— W.P., London SW3

A. Both sides should immediately commission spoof Ladybird 1950s-style books in the manner of the bestselling We Go to the Gallery by Miriam and Ezra Elia. There is no reason why the same brother and sister pair should not knock up the arguments for both sides. The Referendum: I Vote Yes and The Referendum: I Vote No. With the key arguments simplified to toddler standard, and reproduced free online, the eventual result could be much less dumbo-cratic.

Q. We hope to stay for a week in June with a disorganised friend in Norfolk who leaves everything to the last minute. Meanwhile, a formal invitation to a wedding in France has come through. We can’t do both. Does protocol demand we accept the first proper invitation even if it has gone out way too far in advance? We would rather go to Norfolk.
— Name and address withheld

A. It is fine to wait six weeks before the wedding date to give your reply, but why not send immediate regrets? You will then be in credit for efficiency, so that if the Norfolk invitation is not forthcoming you can say plans have fallen through and can you come after all?

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