Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I get my cleaner to put everything back in its proper place?

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

Q. This year once again my company took a small group of clients to lunch at Royal Ascot. Our guests included a couple of former clients we asked along for old times’ sake. These have both written not only to thank us but to say we can count them in for next year’s lunch as they ‘wouldn’t miss it for the world’. Fond as we are of these former clients, to be brutally honest we can’t afford to have them every year as we need to invite current spenders. Any thoughts, Mary?

– Name and address withheld

A. Tell them they were a great asset at the lunch and their names are definitely going into the hat for next year. When they ask ‘What hat?’, explain that next year you will have to draw names from a hat as the lunch has become a victim of its own success and is oversubscribed with willing participants, so the only fair way to ration the invitations is to draw names from a hat.


Q. My new cleaner moves everything in my home office around and it drives me mad. How can I teach her to put things back in the correct place without offending her?

– C.A., Taunton

A. Cheerfully apologise for having been inconsiderate in not having thought of this before – but you have just remembered that your last cleaner asked you to take photographs of where you like everything to be placed in your home office as she found this very helpful. So why don’t you immediately forward the same set of photos so she can keep them on her iPhone for easy reference? In this way she won’t think you are criticising her, but just trying to make her life easier.

Q. An acquaintance I don’t particularly like but run into at social events has taken to claiming intimate friendship. He calls me ‘darling’ and makes out that he’s known me all our lives. His motive, I imagine, is to seem well born and well connected. I would think it harmless, but when I last saw him he insinuated having had a relationship with a friend of mine, and walked off before I could correct him in front of the person I was with. Mary, what can I do to stop or alleviate this?

– Name and address withheld

A. Next time you run into him, send a warning shot across the bows. Smile pleasantly as you introduce him to whomever you are talking to at the time. Let’s pretend you are talking to Magda and the fantasist’s name is John. Say: ‘This is Magda, who I first met this evening/at university/five years ago. And this is John, who I hardly know but who is always super friendly. Oddly we seem to go to many of the same parties, don’t we, John? So we must have things in common… but sadly we have never yet had time for a proper talk.’

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