Q. We have taken a house in Italy and are bringing out some good old friends to stay. Now we learn that some very friendly neighbours in England will be three miles away during the same week. We will certainly run into them while we are out there and they will definitely want to meet up. My husband will go mad if we see them even once but I do not want to offend them. What should I do?
Name and address withheld
A. Grasp the nettle. Ring the neighbour crooning that you have been maddened to hear that they will be there at the same time because you will not be able to see them. Say that it will not be a holiday for you as you have a VIP coming to stay and have to comply with all sorts of security regulations and anyone coming over will have to be vetted. Will they forgive you for not saying who the VIP is and for not asking them over? In the meantime, can you book them to come over to you for dinner when you are all back?