Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Should my widowed mother and her boyfriend get separate beds?

Plus: another suggestion for calling in a forgotten debt, and how to handle Brexit arguments

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

Q. I was interested in the advice given to the niece who owed £30 (12 March). A more direct option, which I have had to use in the past, is: ‘Have you forgotten about the £50 I loaned you?’ The response I received was, ‘I thought it was £30?’ To which I replied: ‘Oh. You hadn’t forgotten then.’
— V.S., Watford, Herts

A. Many thanks for this forthright variant on the earlier solution.


Q. I have from time to time had various discussions with my wife over the sleeping arrangements of my children with their girlfriends and boyfriends when they come home. Needless to say we disagree. I am rather keener on proprieties being observed than she is. That is but nothing, however, compared with vexed question of the sleeping arrangements of my widowed mother and her new ‘(boy)-friend’ (both in their eighties). They are coming to stay shortly. Could you advise on how I approach the delicate question of whether we should be making up one or two bedrooms?
— P.W., Oxford

A. You shouldn’t approach the question at all. It would be undignified for your mother to be interrogated by her own son on such a private matter. Just prepare two bedrooms — as you might easily do for snoring couples in their forties — and, as you show them to the rooms, make no comment or explanation for having done so. Your mother and her boyfriend will in any case be more comfortable in two rooms and it can be left up to them whether they choose to corridor- creep or not.

Q. For the first time in my life my like-minded friends are riven with argument over a voting issue, Brexit. It is impossible to ignore the elephant in the room. How can one best navigate this unwelcome tempest and remain friends both before and, more importantly, after the referendum?
— J.P., Shropshire

A. You might take a tip from one host, a famed facilitator of country-house diplomacy. Following a particularly raucous row over dinner, he has decreed that his guests are welcome to discuss Brexit, although they may only do so after dinner and also only if they go into the garden, like smokers, to do so. He flags up his diktat when guests arrive by indicating a modified ‘Exit’ sign on said garden door showing where the discussions must take place. If and when the dreaded topic comes up, his experience is that guests will happily go outside to thrash the issues through but the discomfort of the chilly nether regions means that they manage to wind up the arguments more swiftly than would be the case were they lolling back on sofas in front of crackling log fires with their glasses being constantly refilled.

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  • Mary Ann

    The way to get the answer right with mother is to ask her.

    • Tom M

      The sweeping assumption of the proposed solution was that there were two spare rooms.

  • JJJJones

    I’m English and as much as I would like Scotland to stay in the UK, they don’t tend to be as stupid as English people to not remember the past history of Tories when they lie, as soon as they read a Tory propaganda headline. You don’t see many Scottish people crying on Question Time because they believed the Tories, as they remember that Tories have harmed more British people and society than anything from the EU. They know that Tories don’t have the interests of most people at heart. They know that UKIP is made up of extreme ex-Tories who are against EU as it’s stopping them from abusing British people, and their main policy is to get rid of human rights from all British people.
    If we leave the EU then Scotland will want to be a separate nation in the EU more than ever, and then Tories will then turn England into a USA state like they have done before, and make everybody else in the world hate us for reasons only the few at the top benefit from.
    Despite Tories first getting us into the European market when they thought it would only be good for the upper classes and their corporate donors, as soon as there were EU directives good for most people such as allowing workers enough breaks and making companies label GM food, Tories made the rest of Europe hate us and also Ireland on the other side when they made no attempt at a peace plan, dubbing out voices of N Irish politicians in the media so we didn’t know other opinions, putting us all in danger.
    Lots of people go on about Blair and Iraq, but they forget that it was the Tories who made us so involved with the USA that we couldn’t have left for the 2nd war if we wanted. Boris Johnson tells us what to do with the EU, when he can’t or pretends to not remember what his own party has done, because on same TV show everybody made a fuss with his Germany never used chemical weapons comments, nobody noticed he said there wasn’t a vote on the 2nd war against Iraq, when more Tory MPs voted yes to it that other parties.
    Thatcher made us the only country that allowed the USA to use us as an airport to bomb Libya which killed Gaddafi’s child and led to Lockerbie. Other countries wouldn’t even give them airspace and made them fly around. That was in the cold war when Russia was an ally of Libya, USA was planning the Star Wars protective shield but we would have nothing. I remember a lying question dodging Tory being asked lots of times on the TV what protection we would have in Reagan’s Star Wars while being their lap dogs, and he eventually said we wouldn’t have anything.
    Then John Major made us the 2nd largest force in the 1st Iraq war, and we were the only other country going on bombing raids with the USA in the region up until 2nd war, so that we couldn’t have left all our commitments there on the day before USA decided to go to war a 2nd time.
    It’s happening again now. We’re arming Saudi Arabia while saying less brutal nations like Syria under Assad need to be overthrown, supporting the USA sending arms to extremists groups against Assad so that Islamic State are driving around Syria in trucks the USA sent there.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    The double bed is so over rated.

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