20 MAY 1995, Page 63


Dear Mary. . .

Q. Recently, as I left an early evening cock- tail party a man said to me, `Night-night.' This left me with a feeling of being unwant- ed and unpopular. How can I get my revenge?

Name and address withheld.

A. Next time you see the man at a party rush up to him with a handkerchief and remove an imaginary smut from his nose.

Q. When my husband's rather prissy sister comes to stay with us we find it an enor- mous strain as she disapproves of swearing. We are both fairly foul-mouthed as we have a lot of friends in the racing world, and we find the effort of curbing our tongues in her presence debilitating. What do you suggest, Mary?

S.B., Donnington.

A. Why not trick your sister-in-law into swearing herself? You could do this by sug- gesting, as soon as she arrives, that the three of you play a marvellous new game You have been enjoying, which can be Played at any time, anywhere. 'The Word Game' requires one person to shout out a letter of the alphabet while another has 60 seconds to say as many words beginning with that letter as he can think of. A third person keeps score by marking a tick for each word. Allow your sister to go first. You will find that, in common with almost everyone else who plays the game, a Tourette's Syndrome-style torrent of abuse will emerge from her mouth as she tries hysterically to think of words beginning with, for example, the letters p, for s before the 60 seconds is up. This should add a cer- tain balance to the atmosphere during the rest of her stay.

Q. I have recently had a hip replacement operation and am now getting about on crutches, with some months of this to come. When I go to town I frequently meet acquaintances who ask after me. My stan- dard reply is, 'I've had a hip replacement operation and it's going very well.' They then tend to launch into lengthy stories about their own health, which are boring and time-wasting. Any trip to town becomes a marathon. Short of staying immured at home, or appearing vilely anti-social by telling kind inquirers, `Sorry, must rush' and lurching off, how can I nip these arthritic monologues in the bud?

AA., Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

A. When people ask how you are, reply, `I've had a hip operation and it's going very well, but I won't bore you with the details because I know how dull I always find it when people talk about their health.' Alter- natively, you might take a tip from the director of one of London's well-known art galleries, who deflects well-wishers enquir- ing about his heart by-pass operation by suggesting they might like to see a video which was taken of the whole procedure. 'It will be much more informative than I can be,' he says, 'but I'm afraid it will cost you £9.99.'

Mary Killen