18 OCTOBER 1997, Page 87


Q. Grand neighbours who live near us in the country give a huge fireworks party each Year. I find the event frustrating since I am aware that virtually all my local friends are Present somewhere or other, but it is impos- sible to see anyone in the dark unless you stand near the bonfire, which I find too hot. It seems rude to blunder about with a torch, !Inning it into people's faces and then mov- mg on if they prove not to be who one hoPed. I would like to be better prepared for this year's party on 5 November. What '4O You recommend, Mary? Name withheld, Wiltshire 4. Why not take a tip from the Countryside Rally held in Hyde Park this summer and identify your presence in a crowd by means Of a location balloon? You can then take a comfortable position and stand b.eneath the balloon while friends, gasping sighs of relief, beat a path towards you in the dark.

9. Although I have given many dinner par- ti.es in my London flat I have never yet given a drinks party. I am now planning to give one, and want to invite the maximum that the flat will comfortably hold. How do

Dear Mary. . .

I go about calculating this figure?

A.F.Z., London W11 A. Simply borrow about 250 pairs of shoes and position these around your rooms in likely configurations, allowing room for arm gestures and swollen girths. This is the surest method of gauging what numbers you can comfortably hold in your dwelling.

Q. I come from a large family and have a number of brothers and sisters-in-law living within easy visiting range of me in central London. Is there any rule about how often I should see them?

A.B., London W8 A. There is no social obligation to see your nearest and dearest of this category. Howev- er, from a medical point of view it is advis- able to keep in touch with siblings since these are the only people who can alert you to the fact that you may have developed temporary bacteriological problems such as the condition known as 'bread breath' which might otherwise go unnoticed.

Q. A short while ago you published a ques- tion regarding a doctor's plea for help because he was continually being bothered by people at parties seeking medical advice for themselves. I have always liked the story of a doctor voicing this same complaint to a lawyer, who advised him that when this happened he should send the good lady a bill the next day. The word would soon get round and he would not be importuned fur- ther. 'What a good idea. I will do so next time,' said the doctor. Next day he received a bill for services rendered — from the lawyer.

P.L.M., Lisbon, Portugal A. Thank you for this anecdote, which was also supplied by I.S.W. of Argyll.

Mary Killen