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Published on November 28th, 2012 | by Perrin


Horse’s Mouth

At Town Crier, we occasionally get letters from readers seeking advice on all manner of personal situations. They could be questions of etiquette, social faux-pas or family matters. We are always happy to help and so we have enlisted the help of a local stalwart who in her own words has seen it all and calls a spade a gardener. Lady Ophelia d’Knight, (Offa to her friends, but we’re allowed to call her lady d’Knight), will be happy to answer any of your queries in future issues.

Dear Lady d’knight

As Christmas approaches, my thoughts are turning to what needs to be done, including writing the Christmas cards. With this year’s enormous hike in the cost of stamps, I think I might need to send e-cards instead. What are your thoughts on this?


Dear KJ

I hope you’re not serious? Since when has one been able the hang up an e-card? Or show the world how popular one is based upon the number of cards one receives? Reduce the postage from 1st to 2nd class if you must. If you’ve already done that, review your Xmas card list and remove a) the people you don’t really like and never see anyway, b) the people who don’t send you a card back and/or are dead. Sounds obvious but at my time of life one’s friends are dropping off their perches just like Monty Python’s Norwegian Blue parrot.

Don’t, however, be tempted to send out hundreds of copies of your child’s designed Christmas card. They’re lovely if you are a close relative, but otherwise they could have been painted by a chimpanzee and look terrible over the mantel piece.

Lady d’Knight

Dear Lady d’Knight

My husbands extended family are coming to stay this year for Christmas and although they are only due to stay 2 nights, in past year this has stretched out to 3 or 4. Although I ordinarily don’t mind having people to stay, I find it particularly tiring over the festive period (I don’t get a lot of help from them), not to say hugely expensive with all the extra people to feed. How can I politely let them know that they should leave when they agreed to do so?


Dear MC

You need to do your own version of giving the ‘cold shoulder’. Supposedly this expression comes from the 1800’s when it was quite normal for wealthy people to spend extended periods of time going from one house to another staying with friends and family. At the beginning of their stay they would be offered delicious hot meals, the best the household could afford. However, if it was felt that the house guests had outstayed their welcome, they would be offered what was then considered a cheap, poor person’s meal – cold shoulder of mutton.

Whether or not this is true I can’t say but I think the idea is sound. Stop being so generous with both your food and hosting, expect them to help out more, for example, “I’ve put out some bits in the kitchen if you want to make yourselves a sandwich”. Reduce the quantity and quality of wine you offer, or perhaps suggest that they might like to make a trip to Majestic as you’ve completely run out. I normally find that when guests have to put their hands in their own pockets, they clear out pretty quickly!

Lady Offa d’Knight

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Lieblings



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