Dear Serena

YOUR CUT-OUT-AND-KEEP GUIDE TO PERFECT MODERN MANNERS
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The Independent Culture
Dear Serena,

What is the best way to eat corn on the cob?

Barbie, Brentford

For the normal ear, simply pick it up in your fingers and nibble, taking care not to take such large bites that it dribbles down your chin. For the genetically modified plant, first snare it using the standard wire- and-hole-in-hedge technique, bash it firmly over the head to stun it, drop in a vat of boiling water and, when it's done (you can tell because it will turn from Soylent Green to Nuclear Yellow), strip off the gnarly outer carapace, and enjoy the flesh with a fork. Delicious with hormone- enhanced dairy butter. Take care, though, to discard the shiny central core, which is known as the dead man's chunky, and is instantly fatal.

I have applied to the Channel Swimming Association for permission to do the Dover-Calais run. Obviously, coming from down under, I'm not entirely familiar with the territory and was wondering if there were any hazards I should be looking out for.

Meera, Christchurch, New Zealand

Yes. Watch out for cruise ships. They're the big white things with the holes in the side and the blind lookouts.

I own a small family sugar refinery, and we recently expanded our operations into the United States. My product, however, isn't taking off as I'd hoped. There is obviously some cultural difference I'm missing out on. What should I do? How does one sell to these people?

Justin, Penzance

Change your packaging. Add a prominent label reading "100 per cent fat- free". You will find that sales increase at least fivefold. This technique works just as well for clothing, alcohol and cosmetic products.

I've passed my A levels with flying colours, while all my friends failed. Now everybody thinks I'm a goody-goody and no one wants to talk to me. To make matters worse, my contemporaries are all going off to glamorous careers as rock stars, actors and eco-warriors, and I have to go to university. I am so depressed.

Norman, Brighton

Norman, it looks like you're destined for a future as a government actuary unless you're very lucky. Sorry, but it's not as if you didn't have plenty of warnings. But don't despair: people in your position have managed, through determination, networking and quietly dropping inconvenient qualifications and double-barrelled names, managed to overcome their disadvantages and become heroes of the dance scene, prominent green activists and even the lead singers of Indie bands. One or two very fortunate individuals have even married Radio 1 disc jockeys.

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