Dear Minxie,
I have a Halloween K9 dilemma and I need your help. I'm going to a Halloween party and the hostess insists that my dog wear a pumpkin costume. I'm mortified by the idea, as I think it's degrading to his manly corginess. How much anthropomorphism at themed events is too much? Are dog costumes ever acceptable? But, I do think my dog would rock a cape. And as for dog weddings?! Thoughts please.  Calamity

Dear Calamity,
What most humans don't understand, but I suspect you do my love, is that dogs are superior creatures to us. They may occasionally beg for snacks, sit on our laps, plant their butts when we say "sit" all authoritarian-like but, deep down, I think everyone knows they are just indulging us. Making us feel like, "hey this little fella thinks I'm the best thing that ever happend to him/her". Not so. They feel a bit sorry for us - like the clowns we are - and just play along with whatever floats our boat. They like to make us happy. It's their schtick. Corgis are especially wily as they come across as very precious (owing to a certain over-indulged English woman's liking for them). But, the mighty corgi is freakishly astute, and I don't doubt that some day one of these 'princely darlings' will be leading the Free World. I'm not a fan of the dog costume, especially ones that make a pooch resemble a human (or a vegetable ... same thing). Why the hell would they want to be human? To redress this historic imbalance, you should suggest that every human at your Halloween hostess's get-together dress like a dog. And not a cartoon or character dog either ... I mean a  bona fide dog. That means freezing the tip of your nose, wearing a synthetic fur onesie, working on your doggie breath, maybe getting a little flea infestation in your nether regions and rolling in something rancid for that reality x-factor. Sure, pop a cape on your corgi for the party, because if dogs were human they'd be super humans. They'd need to be to put up with our carry on. I was going to launch into an appraisal of dog weddings, but I am onto my third Fluffy Duck and I fear I would enter Minxie's Cave of Unspeakable Hell, which is a very nasty place. So, Calamity, your mission from this day on is to be Dog's Best Friend. Make a stand, because you don't want to be on the wrong side of a corgi when the revolution comes. Viva-la-Canine! MJx 


Dear Minxie,
I've just read your Champagne Commentary piece on the 80s and I am a bit taken aback by your aversion to the man perm. Is there ever a good reason for a man to get a perm? Steve 

Dear Steve,
In short, no. I slept on this question, but woke up in a right state when I dreamt I was stuck between Billy Joel and Kenny Loggins at the We Are the World 80s karaoke get-together. There is really no need for a man to get a perm today. BUT, here are some exceptions. Do any of them apply to you Steve?

1. It would be OK, and probably expected, if you were a member of an Eastern European soccer team. Imitation man curls seem at home with fluoro tracksuits. 
2. If you already have a mullet. You might as well go the whole hog ... and people might think you are just being ironic.
3. If your main stream of income comes from a Hall and Oates, Air Supply or Michael Bolton tribute act.
4. If you are Phil Spector. Everyone just expects him to have crazy hair - even in prison.
5. If you are Olympic weight lifter (again, preferably from Eastern Europe). 

Hey, I'm sure there are worst things you could do with your hair if you are a man with lush locks (like set them on fire) but, I'll get back to you on that after I've had my beauty sleep. MJx


Dear Minxie,
I've just passed a bakery advertising "hot" pies. Should I infer from this that the establishment's ovens are unreliable or perhaps that said pies have been obtained by nefarious means? Either way I'm unsure whether I should be giving this popular baker my custom. Please help. I'm quite partial to a spot of pie, "hot" or otherwise.

Dear Trix, 
This is odd. The use of the inverted commas for "hot" does suggest these pies are a bit shady. Considering my dear old father used to call the humble pie a "mystery bag", I would feel extra uneasy about exactly what any tasty parcel bought from this baker would conceal and if, indeed, it had been acquired through a criminal cartel of bakers.
Inverted commas are wily minxes, and, in the wrong hands, they can make an innocent pie into a steaming pile of intrigue. I'd say Mr "Hot" Baker is a purveyor of fine baked goods, but a dud with punctuation. If he is not careful, he could unwittingly slip into Carry On territory. In the interests of subtle education, it's time to enact the textbook "mime of inverted commas". There is nothing more amusing than when an otherwise intelligent human draws imaginary quote marks in the air for you by way of explaining a fairly simple concept. The "air quotes" are usually employed to hammer home that, erm, a word has a double meaning. Nudge, nudge.
I'd visit Mr "Hot" Baker  today and ask him if his "baguette" is of regulation length, how "fresh" it is and if it is "ready to go" home with you. Maybe follow up with some mime commas around "buns" and inquire about their "hotness" and if two would be "too much of a handful" for a little minx like yourself. Wrap it all up with a sly wink and suggest he slip some of those "hot" pies into a plain paper bag so that you can "take care" of them. By then, if he hasn't called the police, I'd say you'd have two pies in your "hot" little hands quick smart ... with extra sauce. He'll probably give you the goods for free to stop the whole sordid carry on.
And that, Trix, is Punctuation 101.  Stay "tasty".


Dear Minxie,
I apologise for the sensitive nature of this query. If one 'passes wind' in public is it etiquette to acknowledge the incident or to feign ignorance and retreat as quickly as possible? Macey

Dear Macey, 
I am all for owning your little indiscretions. But sometimes - just sometimes - you have to let them slip through the cracks. This is one of those times. It happens to everyone. Even women. I know it will shock most men, but, yes, us ladies have been known to let "Fluffy off the chain" every now and then. Macey, if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation - and there are no kiddies or pets to glare at - immediately create a diversion. My favourite is called the "panic button". Exclaim "Oh my goodness, LOOK AT THAT! Is that a gunman/scary clown with a machete/politician/rogue elephant headed straight for us?!" ... then run. The smell of fear is far more alarming than your meagre contribution to the immediate atmosphere. But, of course, you must assess whether your "Fluffy" is a new-born silky terrier or an adult bullmastiff. If it is the latter, you'll have to ramp up your panic response accordingly. If you are in a lift, it's trickier. You could edge your hip to the alarm/emergency stop button, but that might prolong the agony. Best to just faint in a very dramatic fashion. Your worried lift-mates will carry you to the nearest comfy chair at the next stop and then you can skedaddle when they rush off to find you a cup of tea.
Done, dusted. Nothing to sniff here. 


Dear Minxie,
A work colleague falsely reassures me of a 'cone of silence' when discussing things of a sensitive nature. However, some things have gotten back to me regarding the delicate issues I have discussed. My question is, how do I refrain from stapling her mouth shut? Bobsy

Dear Bobsy,
I have spent many years in the office environment, so I have been able to observe the often unique behaviours exhibited in the jungle of grey dividers. Your chatty colleague is either one of two species. 
Potplantus garrulousii - these critters are so bored that any nugget of information they hear is like water to a dehydrated pot plant. Often this information is shared liberally with other withered office greenery in an effort to rejuvenate them. Or, she might be just a common white ant: threatened by your impressive skills (this might be anything from your head-turning paper-clipping to your speedy organisation of a workshop for 1000 executives at a conference centre next to a casino). 
The indiscreet office species is hard to relate to, so it is crucial that you speak their language: self-important gibberish.The next time you need your workmate to keep schtum after you've told her some delicate information, deliver this script in a mono-tone: 

"Thanks for letting me touch base about this challenge I am experiencing in my endeavours to interface in this work environment. I trust that by me flying this issue up the flag pole with you, it will not compromise my place on the strategic staircase. I would like to emphasise fully that this discourse is confidential – that is – exists in the parallel cone of silence that hovers over this work station. I forecast this will all dovetail nicely and that you will take this on board without telegraphing my concerns to any other team member in this dynamic workplace in any way, shape or form. I know this might seem like I am asking you to hypertask, but it really is not a big ask for someone who gets paid as much as you do to fulfil what really should be a bedrock skill in your professional tool box. If you can pull this off - after all, it is not like I am asking you to put socks on an octopus - it will be a game changer. If you don't think you can hit a home run on this, a magic bullet will be headed in your direction".

Try it Bobsy, and get back to me. FYI: I'd steer clear of the classic mouth-stapling method as those babies can go septic quickly and you don't want a court case on your hands. Happy interfacing! MJx


Dear Minxie, 
There appears to be a growing trend for women and men to wear their workout gear in public places other than gyms. Thoughts, fashionista Minxie? Tracy

Dear Tracy,
A few years ago I would have advised to exercise your judgement. But it is time to draw a universal line on our over-priced yoga mats. What's worn in the gym, stays in the gym. I was forced to set exercise-wear boundaries for myself a few years ago after a very unfortunate incident. Wearing just my leotard and Jiffys, I literally ran into an ex-boyfriend in my haste to get to my Vespa after a particularly strenuous Physical Culture class. I floored him, but not in a good way. By its nature, exercise wear has to be comfortable. What is not comfortable is when you see it strolling down the high street clinging to the loins of an over-confident acquaintance on a shopping jaunt. The rampant spread of Middle Aged Men in Lycra (or MAMILs) is case in point. See one of these otherwise attractive creatures coming towards you in a cafe and, my lord, where do you look? It causes unnecessary confusion. The gym short was a suitable option until Richard Simmons ruined it. So, here’s my solution: a dedicated gym muu-muu. There’s that magic word again. So versatile! Just pop it over your sweat-soaked leotard or singlet after a Big Bazoomba class and you’re good to go-go-go. If you happen to bump into someone you know, you’ll look like you are on your way to George Hamilton's tropical getaway in St Barts, and not a street corner to showcase your mime talent. Work it, Tracy ... but keep it in the comfort zone. Happy Bazoomba-ing! MJx