Dilemma: Should Dr Jekyll be invited to the party?

When Miranda asked whether it was possible to drop a good friend from her party guest list because she couldn't bear to invite her drunken husband too, she added those sad little words 'without hurting her feelings'.

After sifting through readers' replies, it seems the answer is probably 'no'. I mean, would you like to be told by a good friend that as space was so limited, you had determined whom to invite by picking names out of a hat?

That idea came from Ann Goude, of Bowdon, Cheshire, who softened the blow by suggesting that Miranda could then invite this couple to a smaller supper party - 'more controllable, as in this setting the husband would not have a free hand with the drinks. As hostess, she could make sure the amount of alcohol was limited.'

We-ell . . . she would have to be incredibly wily. Real drunks bring their own, gallons of it, having been caught this way too often before. Or they have a hidden hip- flask to top up from.

The answer to Miranda's question should be to ask her friend, cross her fingers and hope that he won't make a scene. But from her letter I assumed that the man had a serious drinking problem.

That's why I didn't feel that Mrs M E Currall, of Brighton, was being realistic: 'Mention to her friend that she is planning a little party but that she doesn't think it would be their sort of thing as she's not thinking of providing a lot of drink. I think the friend would take the point.'

Me too. And I think she'd either say: 'What are you really trying to say, then?' Or she'd say: 'Oh, fine. We'll bring our own booze because you know that my husband's only happy if he can get really stuck in.'

Mrs J Lansley, of Broughton, Hampshire, had the bright idea of having two parties: 'Invite the friend with the husband who gets drunk with guests who would not mind his behaviour too much.' Like Mrs F S Cockburn, of Wimborne, Dorset, I think she believes that 'among 30 merry guests, one drunk won't spoil a party'. But an unpleasant drunk can.

Some picked up on the fact that there is more to this problem than just party manners. Alison Turnbull, of Herne Hill, London, wisely wrote: 'Some of your readers will doubtless say that Miranda should confront her friend about her husband's drinking behaviour, but this, like tackling a friend's personal freshness, is easier said than done.'

And Mrs F S Cockburn believed in confronting it - but in a rather curious way. 'The fact that her husband gets completely drunk must be a source of pain to her friend. Therefore the invitation will affirm Miranda's support for her.' Support, yes, but surely not of a kind that involves pouring drink down the man's throat.

No, the least hurtful approach - because there's no completely painless way - is to tackle it. Personally, I feel a hostess should make no conditions on what friends do at her parties - demanding people don't smoke in your house is the height of bad manners in my opinion. But I don't think a hostess need put up with a guest who changes personality during the evening. In other words, if you invite Dr Jekyll, you should not have to put up with the gatecrasher, Mr Hyde.

Like Marion Blundell, of Sutton Coldfield, I believe Miranda must approach the friend directly. She should say: 'I'd love to ask you both, but the fear of your husband getting drunk upsets me so much I'd prefer not to invite him.'

If the friend swears she will ensure he remains sober, or, if not, remove him early, then fine. But manipulative behaviour, excuses, different parties, invitations lost in the post - all these are devious tactics. And since drunks - and often their partners, too - usually have double firsts in devious behaviour, you'll never outwit them.

By being honest Miranda can enjoy the smug, warm glow of knowing she has handled a difficult problem bravely. And she can enjoy her party, too.

Dear Virginia,

About a year ago, when I was on holiday, a colleague who I thought of as a friend took over my job at a theatrical agency. She manipulated her way into it. I felt completely betrayed, particularly as she is well- off, had a job of her own, and had no need of it; it was simply ambition that drove her to it. She knew, too, that I was a single parent with two small children. As a result I was unemployed for six months.

However, thanks to the help of a real friend, I now have another job in the theatre - one that suits me much better. It pays me more and leaves me time to pick up my children from school.

I have recently had a letter from this old 'friend' congratulating me on my new job and suggesting she takes me out to lunch. Some friends say I should bury the hatchet, that I should be 'big' enough to forgive her and that anyway she could be useful to me in my work. Others say I would be demeaning myself by even answering her letter.

I want to do the right thing, but every time I make a decision one way or the other it seems wrong. Do your readers have any advice?

Yours sincerely, Harriet

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most