Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Why don’t my neighbours appreciate my 8 p.m. Thursday firework?

16 May 2020

9:00 AM

16 May 2020

9:00 AM

Q. For me the hallmark of a really close friend is someone with whom you feel comfortable enough to bring a phone call to an abrupt halt with no need for explanation. I too am over 70, but unlike your correspondent from New Zealand (Dear Mary, 9 May) am still working full-time — now from home. Yet my telephone rings throughout the day with calls from the sort of people I might see, at most, twice a year in the outside world, now wanting lengthy chats. I could just tell them that I am still working flat-out but the problem is that these are often people I feel guilty about because, to be blunt, they are keener on me than I on them and I have neglected them, and so I don’t feel I can hurt their feelings by explaining that I need to get on. Neither, obviously, can I avoid their calls at this time. What do you suggest, Mary?
— Name and address withheld

A. You should welcome the intrusions. Speaking for 30 minutes — even if you have to ring back at a more convenient time — will stand you in good stead when lockdown ends. You won’t feel the same pressure to see the callers in real life since you have already notched up credits in a virtual socialising ledger.

Q. I live in a village famous for its castle and related television series, along with an annual ‘Battle Proms’ music and firework extravaganza. My daughter is a GP in Brighton, and my wife and I, along with other local residents, applaud the wonderful NHS at 8 p.m. on a Thursday. Over the past few weeks I have been adding to this by letting off a firework at precisely 8 p.m., which has caused a few ripples in the village, where ‘city folk’ think that clapping and hitting a pan are sufficient to honour those brave folk risking their lives for us. Anonymous letters have started to appear in the village newsletter! Should I continue with the pyrotechnic (or add to it!)?
— K.P., Highclere, Berks

A. You should not be confused by other theatricals which take place in your village. The clapping is a marvellous thing for community bonding but it is now clear that it should be no more than a quiet steady ripple of applause with muffled lid-banging — for the practical reason that no one wants babies and toddlers to be woken.

Q. I was on a repatriation flight last week from my gap year travels in Argentina. Because I am 6ft 5in, the British embassy kindly arranged for me to have an extra-legroom seat and luckily I had a spare seat beside me. When we stopped in Guyana to pick up more nationals one of these new passengers saw a better seat opportunity and moved to the seat beside me. Was there any way I could have kept this seat free?
— A.H., Woodborough,Wilts

A. You could have started coughing.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments