I was pleasantly surprised by the Monday discussion. Ms Messy left herself wide open (she mentioned that, when Mr Messy works at home, he has a loving wife who shoots him a sandwich on occasion) and nobody followed it up. I hope the Messys enjoy Hawaii, which will be good compensation for missing the Shaddap I was anticipating directed to last week's LW3.
This week's letters are not inspiring.
L1: Who the bleep says that one has to like one's children? Parental affection would not have improved anyone's cross-examining skills. Be reasonably fair to all the offspring involved and be content with that; how well they are treated by their parents won't necessarily stop them from consulting the Prudecutor in their time.
As this quickly devolved into a technical question on how to raise children, I shall stop here.
Moral: Mickey Mouse meets Jack the Lad; he's never sad.
L2: Now, are the alcohol and cigarettes considered sinful, or did LW2 just abuse them in a way that she considers self-destructive? Then again, I'm just being a bit of a sin wonk here. My prediction is that the vast majority of posters will fall all over themselves saying that LW2 did nothing wrong. That is completely beside the point. Now there are many letters from LWs in her position who do present questions in regard to which how wrong the reader or advisor considers the conduct given makes a difference to the answer. But LW2 is clear enough. She indulged in self-destructive behaviour. Whether it just means that, like Hugh "Snake Legs" Timson's wife Hetty, she had a glass of tawny port at Christmas, or whether she drank five bottles a day of Chateau Thames Embankment is relatively immaterial. Would it make that much difference to the tone of the response if, say, she'd become addicted to a drug and gone through successful rehabilitation? Smoking seems a bit strange, as it's not the sort of conduct which leads easily to such abuse as would be recognizable in so short a time for someone so young. As for the casual sex and multiple partners, well, at least LW2 got a little bit of luck on that one. I might feel the tiniest bit more comfortable with her if I believed that her experiences have instilled in her increased compassion for others who follow her example (from L2, it seems as if it could go either way), but that's irrelevant. She's entitled to her own value system and to have answers that respect it.
Now, I commend LW2 for recognizing that her behaviour was not taking her in the direction she wanted to go, and getting her life back on her chosen path. While her brother and his wife have clearly established themselves in the wrong, the key is to find a way to establish that without making LW2 embrace or excuse her past conduct. It does seem that there ought to be a variety of texts much to the purpose. The case of Nappier and Lorraine Lee brought up the text about there being more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repenteth, etc. And B2 and wife might benefit from having a Bible study group meeting about what happened after the Prodigal Son's return home. I'm a little surprised that the brother's pastor has not had something to say about this sort of conduct. Maybe LW2 can casually manage to arrange a social event with her brother at which his pastor might put in a surprise, unnoticed appearance. It would be interesting to know whether B2 really thinks his conduct is completely justified, or whether he knows what a pill he's being.
Moral: Not much legs can do but open or close.
L3: So we finally hear from the parents in one of those relationships between a well-educated man of "good" background and a woman either less refined or of a less prestigious family. LW3 seems as if he might be used to fence sitting, but we'll come back to him later. I'd like to cross-examine S3. Is his assessment close to that of his mother, of his father, or vastly different from those of either? The level of education is black-and-white, but what does S3 think about his intended's maturity/infatuation/clinginess? Are these points attractions for him? If he sees past her flaws, does he do so in a manner like that of his mother, his father, or someone completely different?
There are two practical course LW3 could take. The obvious answer, which I think the Prudecutor would have given had she not been unable to see past her disapproval of LW3 and W3, would be for W3 to embrace the young woman and keep acting as if the relationship is rather farther along than it is. She ought to be able to push marriage on S3 in a way that makes him head for the hills before long.
But I think I prefer the example set by Mr Parker Pyne in "Problem at Pollensa Bay". After determining that Basil and Betty are well-suited to each other, depsite the objections of Basil's mother, he recruits his assistant to come and vamp Basil while presenting so alarming an alternative to Betty as to melt all Mamma's opposition.
Moral: She's a PhD in I Told You So; you've a knighthood in I'm Not Listening.
L4: Putting aside the logistical problems of the bet (when exactly did LW4 intend to pay up, if ever), why this has come to the surface for LW4 now, and the possibility of some sort of collusion or manipulation, especially if LW4 and H4 knew each other at the time the bet was made, I cannot approve of repaying the entire thousand, at least without knowing how much extra LW4 has spent on treating the couple or gifts for her friend or the pair of them in the interval.
Or, of course, LW4 could make a reciprocal bet over something she wants to do more than she's let on.
Moral: And if you pull a double one...