11 APRIL 1998, Page 63


Q. I was glad to see evidence (28 March) of your concern for the plight of Bridget Jones-style spinsters, since I am one of these. I am told I am attractive, I have a bit of money of my own and I have my own successful business which I run from home, but I just haven't met anyone for years. I am 38, Mary, and prepared to consider any desperate measures except a dating agency. What should I do?

Name withheld, London SW11 A. Yes, it is a race against time. Therefore put your own successful business on the backburner for a few years while you attend to this urgent matter. Housekeepers are a rare commodity in the service industry. Sign up with an agency which recruits them. Carry on attending interviews with busy unmarried, divorced or widowed bankers, academics, magnates and the like until you have identified a suitable mate. A modem bachelor needs to be shown what a spinster can give rather than what she can take from him, and the position of house- keeper affords the unique opportunity to play trial wife. Once you have buttered his paws successfully, then floated the sugges-

Dear Mary.

tion that you might give up your job, it will be only a matter of time before he seeks to formalise the union.

Q. My husband has begun to wear training shoes at the age of 52. He says that the comfort outweighs the grottiness of his new appearance. How can I stop him?

A.F., London W8 A. Simply snip some tiny pieces of fish or cheese such as St Mbray into the space between inner sole and sole. After a few days invite your husband to smell the shoes. He will agree that the offence is too high a price to pay for comfort. Q. My wife does not believe in going to din- ner parties empty-handed. We have now reached the stage where all our friends have received the standard present — a bottle of olive oil. Can you please suggest another social lubricant? I know Nigel Nicolson has appreciated your present of a sheet of first-class stamps.

London SW7 A. First-class stamps always go down well, but at this time of year a bird-box is more gratefully received, particularly if the donor has the skill to affix it to an appropriate surface where comings and goings can be viewed from the dining table.

Q. How can we punish a friend who drives his new car — an Alfa Romeo — far too flashily and nearly made us all sick last weekend racing through tiny Devon lanes on an outing to Knightshayes Court?

A.S., Moreton Hampstead, Devon A. Attach a notice to his car saying, 'Well driven?' and giving his own telephone num- ber. Make some calls of complaint to the hotline yourself.