Mary Killen

Mary Killen

How to make your excuses

In the past I would have been interested in crafting plausible excuses for unforgivable social behaviour such as failing to turn up to events to which you had RSVP’d, missing a netjet or having said something genuinely appalling. One example: circa 1999, the late Rt Hon Alan Clark MP wrote to Dear Mary. He asked

Dear Mary: how should I thank a friend for dead flowers?

Q. I left fashion school last year and since then I’ve spent most of my time applying for jobs and being rejected. (That’s only if they’re kind enough to send a rejection – most simply ghost me.) I finally have a job (the company does fast fashion) but when I tell my friends, who are

Dear Mary: how can I unmask anonymous marathon sponsors?

Q. My son-in-law is running the Paris marathon to raise money for cystic fibrosis research and has sent out a mail shot to friends and family asking to be sponsored via He has had a fabulous response. Some people have posted supportive messages alongside their names but have chosen to conceal the amount of

Dear Mary: how do I politely ditch my hairdresser?

Q. I have just returned from a holiday where I was the guest of someone extremely rich. She was emphatic that everything would be covered and I must not even think of bringing a present. However, after one lunch in a restaurant, I felt driven to make a gesture and quietly asked the waiter for

Dear Mary: should I work with clients with bad taste?

Q. I used to work for a well-known decorator and have now branched out on my own. Some friends of my parents have asked me if I’d like to redecorate their reception rooms. They’re very nice people and I think they have partly given me the work to help me establish myself. I’m a few