Friday, 19 February 2016

The Lady Guide to Modern Manners: 19 February

What should you do when a cash transaction goes wrong and you’re given a dud banknote? Thomas Blaikie advises

Written by Thomas Blaikie
Dear Thomas,
A dilemma: my dear wife teaches piano and last week, the mother of one of her pupils paid her with a £50 note, which she gave to her sister to repay a long-standing loan. Her sister took the note to her bank but it was rejected and confiscated, much to my sister-inlaw’s embarrassment. It was counterfeit. Of course, my wife immediately reimbursed her sister but she hesitates to confront the woman who gave her the dud note in the first place. What do you suggest?
Beamish O’Halloran, Shoreham

Dear Beamish,
You may say I’m shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it’s best to have nothing to do with £50 notes. They are prone to be forgeries, I believe. If you’ve ever had one, you may have noticed that shopkeepers often examine them in a particular way (as instructed by the authorities) before accepting them. So if handed one privately, it’s wise to take it only conditionally on the understanding that if it’s no good, you will expect to be paid again.

I can quite see that in the genteel world of piano lessons and private tuition, you might not wish to even mention money, let alone make a fuss about it. It would be a different matter if you were in an East End gang. Then you would be ‘putting the screws on’, sending round the ‘heavies’ (Eric the Wire? Razors Raymond?) to menace before resorting to actual torture. It is also awkward because how can the mother who gave your wife the money ever be sure that it was her particular note that was at fault? This is the trouble with cash transactions. Nevertheless, your wife offers her services for money and she has effectively not been paid.

Also, if the mother in question is prepared to entrust her child to your wife’s care for piano lessons, you might hope she’s willing to believe her about the £50 note. I’ve heard of a similar case to this where the person remembered that they’d got the dodgy ‘bullseye’ (Yes! Pub slang!) from a certain very desirable leading store. They went back there and were reimbursed. This was a bit of a fluke – but you never know. Raising the subject with the aim of being compensated is risky but somewhat tentatively I would suggest doing so. If the pupil’s mother won’t believe your wife, refuses to refund her and this leads to the piano lessons coming to an end, then perhaps it’s for the best. There are plenty of other piano pupils in the sea. On the other hand, she may not want to take that risk. A third way would be to ask not to be paid in £50 notes in the future because the last one was a dud. No hint of ‘Pay me again, please’. See what happens.

Please send your questions to or write to him at The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ER

What to do about… untidy dogs

You may remember last autumn I mentioned that Torbay Council is introducing enforcement personnel to go round trying to catch litter louts and dog owners with a casual attitude to the toilet activities of their pets. We’re waiting to hear how this is working. Now, on the dog-poo front, I learn of developments in Alresford, Essex. The village is plagued by unpleasantness near a school and in other public places. The parish council plans to spend money on DNA matching to ensnare the guilty creatures – or more properly their owners. But it’s not clear whether anybody has the power to arrest dogs, as it were, and take DNA swabs in the hope of linking with deposits found.

Elsewhere, Barking and Dagenham Council has launched a pilot scheme to test DNA . But the Kennel Club doubts its efficacy since it is to be voluntary. Only responsible owners will participate and poorly owned dogs will continue at large and with their DNA unknown. While on the subject, I wish dog owners in my street would stop their animals weeing on my railings. I’m not impressed with dog owners at the moment.

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