Q. My mother, aged 87, has taken to forwarding me by email slightly risqué jokes. Her carer is the recipient of the jokes and reads them aloud to my mother, who then suggests she forwards them to me. I think this is an exercise in connecting but it has had the reverse effect as, due to the inappropriate content of these jokes, I am not sure how to react. Mary, what should I do?
— C.D., Lavenham, Suffolk
A. Next time you speak to the carer, apologise for not having acknowledged these communications. Sadly your computer is oversensitive to anything that seems like spam and puts it straight into the junk folder. Then ask to speak to your mother and share some more appropriate jokes with her.
Q. In this part of the world it is still possible to visit a restaurant to dine, though not to wine. We were guests of good friends yesterday at a local restaurant that is known for the size of its helpings, which are heaped up without the customer having a choice other than to elect to have a half-portion. Even the half-portion is too much for us, so we usually end up taking a doggy bag home with us. This meant we were in a dilemma with which you may be able to help. Our hosts called for their own doggy bag but we felt that because they were picking up the tab, we had no option but to let our doggy’s portion go to waste on our plates. Mary, what could we have done to recover the excess?
— Mrs and Mrs B.C., Sedgefield, South Africa
A. One of you should have sidled to the loo via a waiter and asked him to store your own excess in a doggy bag which could then
be picked up surreptitiously on a final loo visit.
Q. My wife has, after all these months of lockdown, taken to working at the same table in the same room as me. This is all very companionable, but when she is listening to something on her computer she puts in her earphones and then shouts either unconnected questions or commentary at me, oblivious to her volume. When I protest, she says that I clearly do not want her in the same room. Mary, how can we find a viable modus operandi?
— R.J.O., Sittingbourne, Kent
A. Why not do exactly the same thing to her so she can see how annoying it is? Then you can have a non-rancorous discussion about how each of you can best learn to control your impulses.
Q. I sympathise with the reader whose husband forgets to fasten his flies. My mother-in-law had a very discreet way of drawing my father-in-law’s attention to this lapse: ‘Darling, you’ve left the garage doors open.’
— F.G., London SE22
A. Thank you for sharing this vignette.
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