3 AUGUST 1991, Page 47


Q. I have never been able to bear any kind of whistling, be it tuneless or tuneful. I now find that in my new job I am sitting virtually next to someone who whistles. It is clear to me that he performs the habit out of nervous self-consciousness rather than a desire to hear 'music'. He has worked in the firm for seventeen years and I think he feels rather threatened by me, the newcomer. For this reason I feel I cannot approach him in a good-natured manner and beg him to stop. What can I do? MW, WI.

A. Why not nip out to a novelty shop in the Carnaby Street area and purchase a 'whis- tle – and I'll come to you' key-ring? These devices serve as aids to absent-minded householders who constantly forget where they have left their keys. The key-ring responds to their whistling from anywhere within a two-hundred-foot radius by emit- ting a high-pitched bleeping tone to facili- tate location. Pretend that you too are always losing your keys and keep them on such a key-ring. Naturally you will have your keys on or near your desk surface at work and so it should be only a matter of time before the constant interruption of nerve-wracking bleeping, triggered by your

Dear Mary...

colleague's whistling, begins to irritate everyone else in the office. You may then leave it up to others to ask him to desist from the habit.

Q. My wife has become an ecobore. Frankly we have plenty of money and she has very little else to think about other than her charity work for Green organisa- tions. The trouble is that she has turned a virtue into a fault by becoming a sort of zealot. She now bores everyone, including all my family and friends, with streams of statistics and facts. She seems incapable of talking about anything else. How can I steer her back onto the general topics which we all used to prefer?

(Name and address withheld).

A. You might suggest to your wife that she join the Islington-based Environmental In- vestigation Agency. This admirable com- pany is the MI5/FBI of the Green world and looks into subjects such as government corruption in the ivory trade, etc. Were your wife to become involved in undercov- er intelligence work, even in a very minor capacity, there is no doubt that she would be advised by her superiors to publicly underplay her environmental commit- ments. She could then return guiltlessly to her former favourite topics of conversa- tion.

Q. What is the best way to get rid of people who ring your doorbell and then stand there with a collection box for some charity or other? It's not that I am mean but I know plenty of people in my own immediate circle who need a pound just as much as someone I have never met in another country. A Q, W8.

A. In London it is perfectly easy to send the collector away empty-handed by saying, 'Sorry there's no one in at the minute. I'm just cleaning up here.'

If you have a problem write to 'Dear Mary', The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street,