January 18, 2013 6:45 pm

Buzz might leer

I am to sit next to Buzz Aldrin at a charity event. What should my first question be? I would begin with plastic surgery

Sir David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters

Once a year we visit London on my birthday. This year my husband George suggested I buy an expensive gown as we were to attend a very special evening charity event and I was to sit next to the astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I burst into tears. Now, every night when the moon is visible, I lie fixated, petrified. What will my first question be? You have been everywhere except the moon, so please help me.

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David Tang

I missed my one chance of sitting next to Buzz Aldrin, whose mother’s maiden name was Moon. It was at one of those large luncheons at which Bill Clinton was speaking and I had boasted to a friend that he could come as a guest of mine, believing that it was going to be a buffet. So when I discovered that everyone was placed, the only way I could keep my promise was to cheat and take away one of my adjacent place cards on which I saw the name “Buzz Aldrin”. I simply asked my friend to sit down in his place with the conviction that Buzz would almost certainly be placed elsewhere. I even thought I could have been doing Buzz a favour as he would, in not finding his place, be put next to Clinton instead of a mere mortal such as myself. That was exactly what happened, so I did Buzz a favour!

Now I know that Buzz is a great admirer of women, having married three times. Therefore if I were you, I would choose a rather low-cut dress that will maximise your chances of getting his undivided attention. I also suspect that he has a very good sense of humour as I remember when he was asked on television, at the age of 77, why he had just had a face-lift, he replied something like “With all the G-force I have had, I do need a bit of work on my jowl”. If you yourself have had plastic surgery, I would begin your conversation with him with that common thread, or should I say suture.

But if I, not being a woman nor having gone under a knife, had sat next to him, I would have asked him if there was any truth in the legend that when Neil Armstrong said: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” he was supposed to have also added “Good luck, Mr Gorsky!” This was a reference to the story that when Armstrong was young, he remembered his neighbours, Mr and Mrs Gorsky, having eternal rows, and one night he distinctly remembered Mrs Gorsky shouting to her husband, “Sex? You will get it when man lands on the moon!” I would have thought Buzz would be a good authority to confirm or deny that amusing codicil to Armstrong’s immortal words.

What happens if a rich man has a painting by Picasso at his London townhouse and, as depicted in Architectural Digest magazine or Hola!, we can see that the Picasso is placed in the drawing room above the fireplace? Should this fireplace ever be started? I assume said fireplace has good ventilation so smoke would not be a problem. However, what about changes in temperature around the painting? What is the lucky person to do?

First, I seldom spot decent paintings over any decent fireplaces, especially in Hello! magazines. On the contrary, I only spot suspect paintings all over suspect homes. But if you had a valuable painting, you would have to be very stupid to hang it over a fireplace that would emit sufficient heat for it to affect the painting. My theory is either the painting is not sufficiently valuable, or that the owner is moronically stupid, or that he might be rather devious in wanting to claim insurance money. There was a case of someone who took out insurance on his valuable collection of cigars. After cover, he lit and smoked all of them. Then he claimed insurance against fire damage! The insurance company couldn’t find any loophole and had to pay up. But as soon as the man cashed the cheque, the insurance company reported him to the police for arson. And he was convicted.

So: “Just by looking at a blank wall, we should be able to get an image in our mind” but “listening to The Rite of Spring, I had a real urge to see ‘Guernica’. I also watched a war movie, and was desperate to see ‘Gassed’.” Absurd, inconsistent and pretentious.

But the two quotes from me are not mutually exclusive! Or do you not understand mutual exclusivity? Do me a favour please: read up the Venn diagram in elementary logic and you will find it’s you who are being absurd and inconsistent, and pretentious for getting it all wrong.

Email questions to david.tang@ft.com

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