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‘Swanking is still unacceptable’ says Mary Killen, on the (always enjoyable) Your Problems Solved page of this week’s The Spectator magazine. She is replying to an anxious letter from a reader  who would like to give copies of his/her two  ‘respectably published’ novels to neighbours and acquaintances who are unaware of the novels’ existence, but worries that these gifts put the recipients in an awkward position.

There is something altogether endearing about this concern for the feelings of others and the appeal for advice in general ‘about trumpet-blowing, however subtly done’. The writer says that in his/her younger days ‘swanking’ was considered the worst of sins …

Mary comes up with a creative solution to the problem perfectly tailored to this particular correspondent. But for most of us it may be that swanking is now a necessity – part and parcel of publishing and marketing novels, however much it goes against the grain.