Ask Martha: 'Should I come clean about not liking The Wire?'

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...

Q. I have a guilty secret: I don't like The Wire much. I've given it four hours without understanding any of the dialogue and I don't think I have anything left to give. Should I come clean about this to my friends or bluff it out? Sophie, Hackney

A. Sophie, to thine own self be true! There is nothing more soulless or vapid than pretending to like a piece of culture just because you think you should. That said, you need to think about how to play this. If you tell your friends that you find said acknowledged TV masterpiece a bit of a yawn, and you can't tell who is who, nor why are there no adorable little dogs in bags in it, they will start to think you are a cultural lightweight. If you say you think it's reactionary, depressing and not a patch on the German TV epic Heimat... well they'll probably be too intimidated to disagree.There is a golden balance to be struck between these two options, Sophie, and I'm sure you'll find it.

Q. At work we share cake out whenever it's someone's birthday. I'm not very keen on cake so is it OK to refuse it? Or should I take it and then dispose of it secretly? And if so, how? MB, Warwickshire

A. As you have intuited, MB, one of the key rules of office team-bonding is to take the cake. To refuse is akin to drinking tap water all through the Christmas party. However, bonding makes everyone the same and there is nothing wrong with standing out in the workplace. Try turning down the dreaded sponge. It won't help you fit in or become "one of the team", but people will admire your steely anti-cake attitude from a respectful distance. You'll probably get promoted. If that fails – well, I hear a neat hiding place is behind your monitor.

Q. Coloured tights – a good look for winter? CH, Portsmouth

A. Yes, with a few exceptions: avoid yellow (too Malvolio), pale colours (unless you have the physique of a baby giraffe) and green (you risk being mistaken for one of Robin of Sherwood's merry men). Lace, colour and even leggings are great but beware the trend for legs in different colours – dangerously court jester.

Q. Please can you set me up with Barack Obama? He's dreamy. Bill, Brighton

A. I worry about this love affair of yours, Bill. It can be awfully hard seducing world leaders, as it's ever so difficult to pin them down. It's always Air Force One this, UN that. Furthermore, First Lady-in-waiting Michelle is also standing in the way of your happiness – although I am sure you would give Barack an excellent tour of your Royal Pavillion.

Email your social dilemmas to Martha at

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