Tel col on tipping inc a MAJOR exclusive about Meghan Markle…

You know that stat being bandied about – if you earn over £80,000 a year, you’re in the top five per cent of UK earners? It’s not quite as impressive but I reckon I’m in the top five percent of UK worriers. Got to be. I spend hours of each day worrying about whether I shouldn’t have sent that email, eaten that almond croissant or had that fifteenth glass of wine. Worry worry worry. And the latest thing I’m worried about is tipping.

Last week, I went to a salon for a bikini wax. (Sorry, I’m now worried that this is too much information but it’s important to the story.) The lady did her thing with the wax while we discussed the rain before she ushered me back to the reception desk. She deserved a tip, I reckoned. An eyebrow wax is one thing; a bikini wax is quite different. But I didn’t have any cash on me. Not a single coin.

‘Can I put a tip on my card?’ I asked feebly, whereupon the lady looked a bit sad and said no, their system didn’t work like that. Off I slunk, feeling guilty.

A thread on Mumsnet erupted recently over whether you should tip the takeaway driver. Some said yes because the employees survive on tips. Others argued that if you order from Deliveroo, the delivery charge is factored in. Another still said the driver ‘throws’ the food at her before she even says thank you, so he didn’t deserve one. Several said they simply didn’t carry change anymore.

The thread developed into talk of tipping the Tesco delivery man, the binmen and the cleaner at Christmas. There was even mention of a coalman, which made me wonder whether Jacob Rees-Mogg had put on a wig and was masquerading as a mother on the site. My own mother texted me the other week, having locked herself out of the car with the dog in it, asking whether she should tip the AA man. She didn’t but says she was racked about this afterwards.

This is one of the problems with a cashless society. For the stingy, it’s a useful excuse at the hairdresser or the nail place. They don’t take card tips? Too bad! We’re used to service being factored in at a restaurant and it’s hardly difficult to slide a note or two into an envelope for the binmen (or your coalman, Jacob) at this time of year. But if we can get away without giving someone an extra couple of quid elsewhere, it seems plenty of us will.

The guilt might get you, though. Various friends said they never tip something like a haircut, given how expensive they can be in the first place, but this seems Scrooge-like if someone’s done a, er, tricky job. Just remember to take cash if you’re off for a nose-hair trim or medical-grade pedicure.

This is why, after leaving the waxing salon, I went to an ATM, took out a tenner and went back again. ‘Could you take a fiver out of this?’ I said, handing it to the lady. She clung to the tenner as if that was the whole tip and there was a further, excruciating exchange where I reiterated I meant five pounds, not ten. My bikini line can’t have been that bad, surely? Maybe it was. I’m still worrying about it.

***

I have a major exclusive about Meghan Markle. Ready? Apparently, she’s ‘the world’s best-smelling human.’ I’ve just had dinner with a friend who met her via charity work and reported back. ‘Why so good? What does she smell of?’ I asked. ‘It was like falling into a fruit bush,’ my friend replied in awe-struck tones, as if she’d been embraced by an Olympian goddess. Apparently it’s Meghan’s hair as well as her whole being in general that wafts this immortal aroma. As one who’s always wanted to give off an expensive, exotic scent but also lives in leggings and Uniqlo jerseys, and whose hair, right now, smells of last night’s fried supper, I am furiously jealous of this.

***

Anyone need a babysitter in West London? I picked up a couple of mates last week before we went to an exhibition together and arrived as their new babysitter did. He’s 17, was recommended by a neighbour and lives around the corner. ‘Have you ever given a bottle to a baby?’ my friend Ems asked nervously, flapping about leaving her 10-month old. ‘No, but I have to goats,’ he replied cheerfully. I snorted at this; Ems looked panicked and there was a high-pitched discussion in the back of the car on the way to the exhibition. Luckily, all was well. The teenager gave their son a bottle when he woke and rocked him back to sleep. It’s unclear whether he tried to give him a fistful of hay too, but isn’t such youthful confidence lovely? Babies: not so different to goats after all.

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