19 APRIL 1997, Page 63


Dear Mary. .

Q. I have recently returned from a skiing holiday in Switzerland, where one of our Party insisted on bringing his mobile tele- Phone onto the slopes. The contrast between the quiet majesty of the Alps and the ringing of this beastly instrument could not have been greater. Do all bankers become inseparable from their telephones? Have you any suggestions?

C. B-N., Holt, Norfolk A. The mobile telephone has recently become something of a low-status symbol. While it is acceptable to make a call on Your mobile, though only from your car or other private space, it stigmatises you as a wally to receive one. Proper top dogs have competent deputies trained to handle nui- sance calls in their absence. They do not Want their leisure activities interrupted, let alone to adrenalise a holiday atmosphere for others. Perhaps you might have shamed Your banking friend into submission by tak- ing the telephone from him with a firm but kindly expression on your face. 'Now why don't you let me stay behind and handle Your calls for the afternoon?' you could have crooned sympathetically. 'I'll tell them. I'll say, "Look, leave him alone. It's very bad manners to ring someone who's supposed to be on holiday. It means he can't relax, it means you turn all his friends against him because they can't relax either . . . " Go on, leave it to me, I won't be frightened of them. You go and enjoy your- self. You deserve a break!'

Q. I am a racehorse trainer. My nearly five- year-old daughter has just told me that she used the word at her school, and then told the class she had learned it at home. The other parents at this tiny school are all terribly genteel and I wonder how I can cover up and convey the impression that she learned her foul language from the television rather than her parents?

Name and address withheld A. Do not blame yourselves. Swearing is the lingua franca of the racing world, part and parcel of it, just like rhyming slang for cockney market traders. In fact, it is actual- ly de rigueur in your job as trainer for you to be up in all the new obscenities and able to converse in them. Explain this in a matter- of-fact tone to your fellow parents. But reassure them that, though your daughter may still lapse occasionally into turf-talk, she will soon be fully bilingual.

Q. I am a crashing bore. Are there any London clubs where I would be welcome?

G.C., London SEJ A. There are many who would welcome you. Bores make up the social mix and are essen- tial components in life's rich tapestry, their dullness serving to set off by contrast the conversational richness of others. If, howev- er, you are as boring as you say you are, then you should take care to be always immacu- lately turned out and to have breath that causes no anxiety to anyone.