Dear Mary

Dear Mary: should we exclude our friend for not having had his Covid vaccine?

29 May 2021

9:00 AM

29 May 2021

9:00 AM

Q. Once restrictions are lifted, our annual walking group has planned a week’s walk with after-walk gatherings in a different pub every evening. The group is composed of people all of an age to have been doubly vaccinated.

We always invite friends along the route to walk a day or two and join us for dinner. One couple invited this year — long-standing friends of some of us and otherwise sensible and interesting people — consists of a husband who, it emerges, is a fierce anti-vaxxer and his embarrassed, vaccinated wife. There are people in the party who do not know this, or him, and might be unamused to discover it when snuggled up with him on the pub bench. What should we do? Say nothing, trusting to our antibodies? Put him on a separate table? Ask him to test negative before coming?

— C.M., Coldwaltham, West Sussex

A. Anti-vaxxers are not shy of boasting that they are anti-vax so you should certainly tell those people in advance — ‘I know AV would want you to know.’ Urge them, if they feel anxious, to have no qualms about requesting that AV sit at a table on his own. Should they do so, they will make satisfying proxies to express the quiet disapproval of the wider group of pre-existing friends.

Q. I work as a live-in nanny for a family who have just bought me a birthday present of afternoon tea followed by a trip to the theatre for myself and a friend. Now it just so happens that my employer has the same birthday as me. What is an appropriate reciprocal present, considering her gift is so generous and thoughtful?

— A nanny, London

A. Your kind employer has been thinking ahead. She can see that her pre-emptive generosity will offset the likely contrast between the presents she receives on the day with those received by her live-in birthday twin. There is bound to be an uncomfortable disparity. To make her happy, therefore, you must not compete. Instead give her something which costs a small amount of money but a lot of devoted effort. How about a handmade birthday cake with bespoke decorations?

Q. My fiancé leaves the loo seat up and says his mother insists this is the correct etiquette. It’s not something I feel comfortable raising with his (perfectly civilised) mother. However, you should know that he is an only child and she has spoilt him.

— W.L., Frome, Somerset

A. All males leave the seats up unless nagged, so his mother may have decided to pretend it was correct so that nagging need not damage their relationship. Either way there is now a very affordable range of (slow) self-closing lavatory seats available from sites such as and you can sidestep the nuisance by ordering one for each lavatory in your dwelling.

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