Q. I recently stumped up the money for a group of friends' tickets to a festival. All have paid me back, bar one. I have mentioned it to him twice to no avail. How should I proceed? HH, Cambridge
A. As Polonius (almost) said, never a borrower or a stumper-up be. Clawing back the money from a "fun" outing such as a festival can prove more difficult even than disassembling your tent. In this case, you have the power of a group at your disposal, so use it. Send an email to all your friends and, along with the general chat/post-festival analysis/thanks for repayment, name him specifically and request the money, so that everyone can see whose fists have got a little tight. The money should come back to you PDQ. Never underestimate the power of public humiliation. Email has wonderful capabilities as far as this is concerned. "Reply" is like a whisper; "Reply All" is like using a megaphone.
Q. An acquaintance has asked me who my hair colourist is. I haven't replied yet because I don't want to share my wonderful hairdresser with her. Being blonde is my secret weapon. Is this so very wrong of me? What should I do? Sophie, London
A. Indeed, it is so wrong, it's right. Why not write back saying, sorry, you are a natural blonde and wish her luck trying out Scissors Palace/Roots'n'Toots/insert another dodgy local salon here. PS. Are you an only child?
Q. A piece of my private correspondence has recently been circulated more widely than I would like, making me look like a bit of a diva. What can I do, please? Wendy, London
A. Your situation reminds me of the writer Giles Coren's recent predicament, when his angry letter to three sub-editors concerning a word taken out of his pieces of restaurant criticism found its way into a national newspaper. In fact, is that you Giles, posing as Wendy? How sweet. Anyway, whether you are a polemical columnist or not, sending rude emails is never wise. Always consider your paper trail. Anything you write down and send can be used against you. You have no one to blame but yourself, and must take it on the chin like a good Wendy. A humble personal apology would be good, but all you can really do is learn from this for next time. And from your use of "please", perhaps you are making progress already, Giles. I mean, Wendy.
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