Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Do I have a moral duty to allow Brexit chat at supper parties?

26 October 2019

9:00 AM

26 October 2019

9:00 AM

Q. I’ve been having friends to supper for many decades. Although I say it myself, these gatherings have often been hugely successful, with lots of laughter, people making new friends and guests regularly staying beyond 1 a.m. When Brexit started it was OK because talk of it didn’t dominate the evening. It now does. Last week I told my guests the subject was banned. They looked thrown but we went on to have an enjoyable evening. On the other hand I am also wondering, is it my duty — as someone with a venue and a good network of friends — to allow my guests to hold forth at this time of what some might call a National Emergency?
— R.G., London W8

A. You are right to have banned it. Brexit conversation seems to be uniquely undialectical in that participants don’t wish to arrive at a truth through listening to reasoned arguments. Everyone’s views are already entrenched, hence discussion inevitably devolves into debate and, as the object of a debate is to win, aggression becomes a factor. Unless the subject is banned, guests will make new enemies
and will leave with indigestion. Let them discuss Brexit elsewhere. Supper parties must not lose their historic connection with fun, friendship and food.

Q. My elderly mother, who lives alone, is physically fit. Nevertheless, like all members of her generation, she is susceptible to scam phone calls. We have cancelled the landline and given her a mobile, which she loves and is perfectly able to use. The problem is that because she is absent-minded, she keeps mislaying it in her fairly big house. At this point she calls in a neighbour to come and ring her mobile from their mobile, but because the signal is patchy, still the phone often cannot be found. Please help, Mary.
— C.F., Glemsford, Suffolk

A. Why not suggest that she sets the timer on the clock feature of her mobile to go off every 15 minutes, say? This will happen whether or not the device is within signal and she will thereby relocate it easily. She can simply press ‘Repeat’ to shut off the alarm and reset it to go again 15 minutes (or an hour) later.

Q. I sympathise with your correspondent (28 September) whose lunch guests put the silver cutlery into the dishwasher which promptly melted the glue between handle and blade. It has happened to us. But there is a potential remedy: a Sheffield company called Chimo Holdings offers a service which they call ‘Cutlery Hospital’. It is possible they may be able to salvage the situation — they did for us.
A.W., Lindfield, Sussex

A. Thank you for sharing this tip. Victims of silver abuse should go online at to view the services offered.

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