Definitely bad manners

New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield and editor John Murry met in 1911 and had a turbulent relationship by anyone’s standards: by the time they wed in 1918, they had split several times and seen other people — a pattern that persisted throughout their marriage. Three years after tying the knot, having just intercepted a suspicious piece of mail, Mansfield saw no option but to write a stern letter to fellow author Princess Elizabeth Bibesco, a woman who for some time had been having an affair with Murry. She wrote: “Dear Princess Bibesco, I am afraid you must stop writing these little love letters to my husband while he and I live together. It is one of the things which is not done in our world. You are very young. Won’t you ask your husband to explain to you the impossibility of such a situation. Please do not make me have to write to you again. I do not like scolding people and I simply hate having to teach them manners. Yours sincerely, Katherine Mansfield.”

Boundaries are hard for some people

A reader writes: “Feel a bit of a cow saying this, but here goes … my neighbour is in her 80s, is a nice enough woman but I find her very demanding. I’ve gone out of my way to help her by getting her shopping, feeding her cat when she’s away, sorting out the settings on her laptop, picking up her medicine, ordering stuff online which she subsequently changes her mind on so I have to organise to send it back and wait for the refund to come back to my bank a/c. Even taking a sample of her urine to her GP for her! She also wants everything done there and then and gets a bit huffy if I say I’ll do it later and then tells me not to worry about it so I don’t … The last straw was the other day when I’d just come back from the shops and she banged on her window, so I waved and carried on to my front door. I hadn’t even taken my coat off and my phone goes, it’s her so I ignored it. I need to get across to her that she is my neighbour and not a member of my family … Have I made a rod for my own back?” (Via Mumsnet)

Spelling trick sticks

Tall stories

Malcolm Hayward writes: “Fifteen or so years ago I went to a book signing of Lee Child and was surprised at how tall he was. When there was question time, someone asked why the main character in his book was called Reacher. His answer was that when he was in a supermarket he often got asked to reach for a product off the top shelf, mainly by elderly “little ladies” as he put it, when he decided to become a full time author his wife said: “Well love, if it doesn’t work out you can always get a job in a supermarket as a reacher so he decided that would be the lead character’s name.”

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