15 APRIL 1995, Page 55


Dear Mary. . .

Q. When at parties, how can I avoid getting involved in a long and tedious conversation With a man I know who is a frightful bore?

A.B., London W8 A. The moment you spot this frightful bore, bound straight up to him and say, 'Hello, my dear. I've been trying to get in touch With you. Can we have lunch tomorrow?' No doubt the bore will agree. You can then Say, 'Well, we can't go on talking now, oth- erwise we'll have nothing to talk about at lunch tomorrow.' The following morning, simply ring up and cancel the lunch.

Q. As one who does not wish to be treated as even older than my 66 years, I am con- stantly irritated by the greeting 'Are you well?' on meeting and 'Take care' on leave- raking. Can you recommend any way of dis- couraging these no doubt well-intentioned Words?

M.W.S., Blackheath, London SE3 A. How about replying, 'Why? Do you know something I don't know?' with a light- hearted chuckle. Or, you could even say, 'What an extraordinary coincidence! I was about to ask you the same thing.' As for the unacceptable 'Take care', you should affect an exaggeratedly startled look and ask, 'Of what?' These measures should serve to alert well-wishers to the unstibtlety of their comments.

Q. I have a dear but rather fierce friend who telephoned me some time ago to ask me the value of her late husband's gilt and enamel neck badge for one of the Orders of Chivalry, of which.! am also a junior mem- ber. I consulted several other members of the Order and finally advised her that it would be best for her to take it to Spink. Now, three years later, she has asked me to return the neck badge, which I never had. She is adamant that she left it at my house in a brown box. I still have a very good memory and am equally certain that she didn't. Nevertheless, I now feel like a thief. What should I do?

Name and address withheld A. The only possible course is for you to contact your local police station and ask them to give you the name of a reputable police hypnotist whose services could be engaged in sorting out this problem. You and the fierce friend in question should then undergo hypnosis separately and leave it up to the hypnotist to diagnose which one of you has the more accurate memory of the events in question.

Mary Killen