22 APRIL 2000, Page 55


Dear Mary. .

Q. Apropos the power of nutmeg as a mood-altering substance (Your problems solved, 15 April), if I.H. wishes to further enhance his image as an expert on these Matters, he may be interested to know that in Saudi Arabia, where I live, its use is banned outright due to its alleged danger- ous level of potency as an aphrodisiac. A.W, Jeddah A. Thank you for this tip, which will be fur- ther grist to I.H.'s mill.

Q. I am a practitioner of aromatherapy massage. Each part of the client's naked body is exposed to my eyes as I move the towel from one area to another. Many make rueful comments of self-deprecation and I wonder how I should tactfully respond without being insincere or patron- lung. I can hardly agree: 'Yes, it's a pity you have not spent more time in taking care of yourself ' G.S., London SW3 A. Why not take a tip from one of our most successful masseuses who also practises in the central London area? She reassures clients by making the truthful statement: You know, I see a lot of bodies and the extraordinary thing is that everybody has something beautiful about one part of their body.' She then draws attention to the one part of that client's body which is, in truth, beautiful.

Q. I am at a loss as to what to do. Advise me, please, on the right course of action. Having accepted an invitation to Covent Garden and reciprocated with an invitation to Glyndebourne, we were astonished to find that we were entertained in a private box at Covent Garden whereas we have only ordinary tickets for Glyndebourne. Should I borrow money from our rich friends in Hans Place and upgrade the tick- ets or shall I suggest to the mother of lovely twins that she wears her Romanian head- scarf so that no one recognises her in these cheaper seats?

R.F., London Wli A. You should never underestimate the pleasures of bestowing patronage. You would spoil everything if you robbed your friends of this opportunity by offering them a quid pro quo-style experience in exchange for their own largesse.

Q. I have recently been elected to the parlia- ment of a small state. Politicians are expect- ed to be permanently on duty and a trip away from the island is the best way to get a bit of peace and quiet. Imagine my horror when, standing in the lift in a large hotel (1,000-plus bedrooms) in London early one Sunday morning with a friend who was a lit- tle the worse for wear from the night before, I was accosted by a perfectly pleasant-look- ing lady inquiring whether I really was that person from her small country. Things reached a peak when, at the opening of a nightclub recently, it was even impossible to go to the lavatory without being bothered. Should I invest in a baseball cap and larger dark glasses, or is there a better way of politely rebuffing this.constant intrusion into one's private time? Your help, Mary, would be appreciated. Please would you keep my name to yourself?

Name and address withheld A. The best response to such unwelcome acts of recognition is to raise a finger to the lips, wink conspiratorially and whisper, `Under cover'. Very few of your 'subjects' would have the insensitivity to press for fur- ther details on this matter, which they will assume to be of state significance.