Borrowing is fraught with peril. Sometimes it is unavoidable and if you have friends much richer than you it is tempting to borrow. But once you have borrowed from a friend, you have unbalanced your relationship, tipped the scales from equal peers to that of bank manager and account holder. If you must borrow money from someone you know, then damage limitations might include setting up a standing order the very day of the loan. Even if it’s for a tiny amount each month, the message is clear: that you fully intend to pay back your borrowing – unlike the 18th-century playwright Richard Sheridan who wrote, ‘I handed one of my creditors an IOU and thought thank heavens that’s settled.’
If you are a borrower of more frivolous items, the lines are a little more blurred. Borrowing a skirt, a book or a pair of earrings can be flattering; it implies that the person from whom you are liberating possessions has covetable taste. Just try not to stretch it, shrink it, lose it or spatter it with food. Above all, never fall into the trap of lending said item to the same friend years later with the words, “I never liked this, so you might as well have it”.

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