Ask Martha: Should I kick my flatmate out?

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


Q. My new flatmate initially seemed nice. But after a few weeks she now totally blanks everyone in the house and makes it a very unpleasant place to live. However, technically she has done nothing wrong – she is tidy, quiet and polite, but she has ruined the vibe of the place. Should I kick her out? Adam, London

A. I take it your new flatmate hasn't joined in your late-night living-room karaoke sessions. She hasn't suggested playing Twister, clothed or otherwise. She doesn't hand-jive her way to the front door in the morning. Give the girl a break! Introversion is not a crime. With time she may well come out of her shell, so try to make her feel comfortable. Moving in with you and your "vibe" may not have been all that easy, Adam. If after several months she really does turn out to be a bit of a cold fish (never catches your eye, paints the walls black), you may have to take action. But the first rule of advert-based flatsharing is not to invest or expect too much emotionally.

Q. Is it OTT to serve a starter, main course, dessert and petits fours at a dinner party? I recently went to a friend's and we only had one hearty stew. Does offering so many courses look a bit try-hard/pretentious? Amber, Eastbourne

A. There is nothing worse than sending guests away hungry, so I applaud your generosity. And throwing a dinner party is, de facto, a touch pretentious anyway. But perhaps it's the style or quality of how or what you're serving that is making you feel a bit Hyacinth Bucket. You're not setting name-cards for a party of six are you? Or folding the napkins into swans? Or serving cheap lumpfish caviar with a great deal of pomp? These days, all of the above can only be done in ironic high spirits and, to be honest, all should really be avoided. The French have ways of distinguishing between different bourgeois types, so why not be a bit less haute and a bit more bo-bo (boheme-bourgeois) and serve your guests, oh, I don't know, mud in a bucket.

Q. I was attempting to juggle with my personal belongings when I dropped them, breaking all three. Will the government bail me out? Alex, by email

A. Oh ho ho, we have a wit in our midst. Your satire is withering indeed (I hope Alistair Darling doesn't read this) but Alex, don't give up the juggling.

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