Q. I treat myself to a manicure every ten days. It’s a 30-minute appointment and the girl I use is always fully booked. I turned up — punctual as always — for my appointment this week to be told that the client before me had been stuck in traffic and so my manicurist was ‘running late’. It turned out to be a wait of 12 minutes and she ended up giving me rather a rushed job. I looked at my watch when I left, and saw that she had made up her lost time at my expense and I felt short-changed. This isn’t the first time it has happened. Mary, how can I politely make clear that I want the full therapeutic value of the treatment I am paying for: i.e. the relaxing hand massage well as the nail-painting?
— Name and address withheld
A. Next time gush sympathetically when you enter: ‘Poor you. Latecomers are so inconsiderate — it must throw your whole schedule out. And you’re such a professional. Are you going to be able to give me the full 30 minutes now? Or should I rebook?’
Q. I have organised a memorial service for my late father. A certain well-connected lady has applied for a ticket, yet I know for a fact that she never met him. Indeed he joked with me, when we were planning the service together, that it would be quite an accolade if this person — who has a reputation for attending, for purely social reasons, the memorials of vague contemporaries who she never met — were to turn up at his. I did send the ticket, but on the day I would like to let her know that I am aware that they never met and she is using the occasion to advance her own social ends. How can I do this pithily? By the way, the offender is in her late eighties, but I am told she still has her full wits about her.
— P.D., London W8
A. A church is the wrong place for caustic comments or making anyone feel unwelcome. Moreover I would decree that it is quite acceptable for someone in her late eighties to attend a memorial of a contemporary she never met, even if she does just want to socialise with a ‘payload’ of her peers. You should change your attitude and be pleased to see someone of your father’s vintage swelling the numbers. At least it was conceivable for her to have met him — unlike the seasoned gatecrashers who turn up at every London memorial service to take advantage of the free food and drink.
Q. I live alone in a one-bedroom flat in Notting Hill Gate. Friends often drop in and sometimes ask to use the loo. If I have just used it myself, I don’t necessarily want them to go in there. Mary, how can I say no, but without going into the details of why?
— R.W., London W11
A. Why not say: ‘Oh I wouldn’t if I were you — a workman has just used it.’
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