Dear Serena

Your Cut-Out-And-Keep Guide To Perfect Modern Manners
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Dear Serena,

I've had a major win on the pools, and, after a lifetime of being careful about money, I want to spend up on something absurdly extravagant that I can look back on and think "Yes, I did that and didn't care a hoot about the cost". What should I do, do you think?

Dottie, Bournemouth

A lot of people in your position blow a large chunk of their winnings on world cruises, but this would be a bit of a waste on the pointless extravagance front as you might come home with pleasant memories, new knowledge or even a gigolo husband. The best thing I can think of is to go to your nearest car dealer in the next three weeks and buy a V-reg middle-of-the-range family car. If you can arrange some form of financing, all the better. Do not, whatever you do, be tempted to buy one in Belgium, as you will save at least pounds 3,000.

My wife has become so familiar with me that she thinks it's fine to come in while I'm in the bath and take a pee. I find this a real turn-off in every way. Surely the women's magazines say the key to a healthy marriage is preserving the mystery? How do I make her stop?

Lucien, Winchester

Two things, Lucien. One: the filler pieces in the women's magazines are likely to be written by ambitious 22-year-olds whose relationship advice is based on university careers spent reading 1930s novels written by closeted lesbians. Two: has modern man become so helpless that he doesn't know how to fit a lock on a bathroom door?

Does the label "Dry Clean Only" on clothes really mean that?

Geoff, Hounslow

No. What it means is "The fourth time you wash me, I will shrink to child size for no apparent reason".

What is the etiquette, if any, for company-bonding paintball sessions? I work in the City.

Malcolm, Notting Hill

Wear old clothes. Have your hair cut short for ease of washing. Do not show yourself to be uncompetitive: always fire when you have the opportunity, especially from close range. Do not show yourself to be a bad sport: laugh and slap everyone heartily on the back whenever they hit you full in the face from two feet. And for God's sake, always let the managing director win.

I am shortly to attend a gala evening which will be attended by a number of minor celebrities, including a particularly nauseating game show host whom I have always disliked. As the event's organiser is a close friend, and very proud of her "star" guest, I can't see any way of getting out of being introduced. What should I do to make sure that the encounter is kept as brief as possible, without being rude?

Lillian, Beaconsfield

Easy. When faced with the nauseating celebrity, grab their hand with both of yours and turn the gesture, if you can, into an enveloping hug. Then say: "I've always wanted to meet you. I can't believe I've met you. I've been waiting to meet you all my life. I'm your Number One Fan. I want to marry you. Will you marry me? We could make such beautiful babies . ." Continue in this vein until large men in dinner jackets lead you, panting, away.

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