Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Will my friend be offended if I buy her an XL dress?

21 November 2020

9:00 AM

21 November 2020

9:00 AM

Q. My son has moved his girlfriend into our fairly small house for the second lockdown. I am grateful for their company, but unfortunately his girlfriend has started addressing me in a baby voice. My son either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t seem to mind. Mary, as I suspect she is a little nervous of me, how can I tactfully let her know how annoying this is without ruffling feathers? She also ‘pony-trots’ between rooms, but I don’t mind that nearly as much as the baby voice.
— Name and address withheld

A. Collude with a good friend to call you on your mobile, timed for a moment when the three of you are assembled in the kitchen. Tell the friend that you can chat while you cook if she doesn’t mind being on loudspeaker so you have your hands free. Your friend should lapse into baby voice on and off during the conversation. After the call, speaking in deeply affectionate tones, you can explain: ‘She always does that voice when she’s attention-seeking.’ With luck this will put a stop to your guest’s irritating habit.


Q. I enjoyed last week’s advice to the reader whose goddaughter had failed to thank for a birthday present of cash. My godson has never thanked me for, or even acknowledged receipt of, the — I thought very generous — present of a cashmere blanket I gave from his wedding list last year. I am concerned that there may have been a failure to include my card or some other mix-up, yet I don’t want to ask whether he and his wife ever received the blanket as they will then presume I am chasing a thank-you letter and will be embarrassed into writing one at this late stage. Mary, what should I do
— L.S., West Malling, Kent

A. This couple deserve to be embarrassed and you deserve to know if your present arrived. Make friendly contact with your godson saying you want to buy for someone else the same cashmere blanket as you bought for his wedding present, but can he remind you which list it came from as you’ve mislaid the paperwork? When he replies, thank him, and add: ‘You did receive your own blanket, didn’t you? Just realised I never heard from you and obviously I wouldn’t want to use them again if they are unreliable.’

Q. I want to buy a tartan dress as a Christmas present for my daughter’s godmother. She is overweight, but do I risk causing offence by ordering size extra-large, or should I buy a large which she will then have the tedium of having to post back to the supplier to change?
— A.B., Stockbridge, Hampshire

A. Order the XL. Let her know she can expect a delivery. Say the designer has told you that these dresses always come up very small and extra-large is sometimes the same as medium. So, to be safe, you have ordered an XL.

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