Q. We have been invited to stay with a generous friend in Greece. Now we hear from other (slightly closer) friends that they will be staying very nearby. They have been emailing to say that the two house parties must get together. We know the last thing our host will want is to see some other people he knows from London. Even though he quite likes them, he won’t want to make the mental effort as this is to be a laidback holiday. We just want to blob and eat junk food, while the other lot are healthy and sporty. Also they are quite nosy and will want to see his house, but he is very private. I haven’t told our host because we don’t want to put him in the position of having to say he doesn’t want to go to the others’ house (which he won’t, as it will presuppose a return match) and nor does he want them to come to him. It seems very unfriendly not to see our other friends, though. We would feel shifty if we slipped out to see them, and it would make our host look unfriendly. How should we tackle this, Mary?
— Name and address withheld
A. Don’t overexplain. Just tell the rival house party that you think the etiquette is for them to go directly to your host and suggest you meet up at a picnic on the beach for which you all self-cater. This would seem much less threatening and open-ended.
Q. I have no idea how to tell a girl at my school that I like her in a romantic way. We see each other after school sometimes because I go to her house and she comes to mine. While many of my friends talk about going to bases — first base, second base, etc. — I have never been to any of these. How should I make my feelings known? I can’t think how to make a declaration or even if I should make one, but I have a feeling she may like me too. I am 15.
— Name withheld, London W8
A. You can sidestep this potential embarrassment by having a proxy convey the intelligence for you. Next time you visit the girl at her house, bring her a bunch of flowers as a present. Her mother will ask her where the flowers came from. When she tells her mother that you were the source, the mother will explain this means you must like her in a romantic way. Once she knows that your intentions are romantic, the girl will make her own feelings known.
Q. When I go out with a gang of old friends, all of us having made the effort to get together, it is annoying if everyone stays glued to their mobile. No one wants to be on their phone throughout dinner, but everyone trying to contact us expects instant answers. What should we do, Mary?
— P.W., London SW3
A. Why not get all your friends to agree to turn off their phones and place them in the centre of the table? Say they can check their messages briefly at the end of the second course. The deal should be that anyone who cracks early must pay for everyone else’s dinner.
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