Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I get my masseuse to stop talking?

30 October 2021

9:00 AM

30 October 2021

9:00 AM

Q. Our two daughters often bring friends down for the weekend. These friends are more than welcome; we enjoy their company and most have perfect manners — except they never leave a tip. Our daughters claim that no one of their age group (early twenties) carries cash and that even if they remind their guests to bring some to leave in their room, they are so unused to using cash points that most of them still forget. How should I insist without striking a bullying or inhospitable note?

— N.H., Bridport, Dorset

A. Make it easier for the guests by casually mentioning that you have been out to a cashpoint and stocked up, so anyone who wants to borrow cash for a tip can come to you. Stand at the Visitors Book as they are signing on the day of departure and pleasantly offer to lend the relevant sum (you may have to tell them what this is). All young people are in the habit of pinging money into each other’s accounts via their banking apps, so they can pay you back instantly.

Q. A lifelong artist friend is having a shared exhibition of her witty artworks embroidered on washed linen. My husband and I were looking forward to the show, which opens in the West End this week, but now we hear that her co-exhibitor has invited 2,000 people to the opening party. We want to show our admiration and support, but although we are triple-jabbed we are very anxious about crowded spaces.

— Name and address withheld

A. As long as the artist knows that you attended she won’t mind if you just stand in the street outside the exhibition. Many smokers already do this anyway. Bring your own drinks with you so you don’t have to enter the gallery at any stage. You will still be photographed and go on historic record as supporters. You can visit the show for a proper look before or after the opening night.

Q. Since it has been months since I felt completely relaxed, I booked in for an expensive one-hour full body massage. I assumed I would be able to totally zone out. Unfortunately the massage therapist began telling me about a personal crisis she was undergoing — my fault for asking how she was and then being genuinely interested — but I thought she would wind the story up in a couple of minutes. Instead she carried on throughout most of the session. It seemed callous to say I wanted her to stop talking so I didn’t But it meant I didn’t relax. What should one do in this situation?

— F.L., London NW3

A. Halt the flow by asking the therapist to pause the pressure for a moment. Partially sit up and say: ‘I really want to hear the rest of this story but you are such a talented masseuse that I’m already so relaxed I’m afraid I’m going to fall asleep and miss it. Can we talk more at the end of the session?’ Then close your eyes and start breathing deeply.

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