Dear Serena

Modern manners: Your cut-out-and-keep guide to surviving the minefield
Click to follow
Dear Serena,

I've been going out with my girlfriend for nearly six months and, because her flat is nicer and more central, we spend far more time there than at mine. I'm starting to get really hacked off with carrying a bag around town with changes of clothes and so forth but, whenever I suggest that maybe she could give me a corner of a drawer, my girlfriend loses her rag and accuses me of trying to force her hand. How much stuff is it permissible to move into the other person's house before it starts to look like an attempt to move in?

Stan, Harrow

Toothbrushes and shaving kits are fine, as no one should expect anyone else to clean their teeth with a brush that's been gathering fluff at the bottom of a bag. But do use the shaving kit to avoid giving her stubble rash over the weekend, not just on Monday mornings for the benefit of your colleagues.Everything after that is negotiable, though even the finest independent sensibility should be able to put up with a couple of pairs of clean shreddies (as long as you launder them yourself) and a change of shirt.

I think, though, that your girlfriend is giving off some classic warning signs. Women often get fed up with constantly playing hostess to their menfolk, having all the menu-planning, clutter-making, disadvantages of having a live-in with none of the cooking, shopping and DIY help that tends to offset them. Rather than pressure the poor cow to make more space for you, why not make the effort to have her over to yours more often? And maybe, once she starts to get tired of all the trekking, offer her a drawer for a few bits of her gear? At least then you'll have a leg to stand on.

At 37, my best friends and I still enjoy going to boy band concerts and screaming along with the teenagers. Our husbands don't mind, though they insist on being out when we have a video session. But someone the other day suggested that I was immature, and should grow up. Surely I don't have to condemn myself to a life of dinner parties and charity functions at my age, do I?

Kirstie, Dundee

Screaming is excellent aerobic exercise. Don't even think of giving it up. Just as one assumes that people who bang on negatively about homosexuality are a bit unsure, deep down, of which flavour they prefer, so people who talk about the need for maturity are probably scared of how they would cope in the grown-up world if they let their guard down.

I can't work it out. Is it more fashionable to be republican or monarchist these days?

Marion, Merseyside

It is always fashionable to be republican. And despite claims to the contrary, the funerary hysteria over the Princess of Wales made it perfectly clear that Royalism is alive and well in this country. Which is probably a good thing; god knows what would happen to our tourist trade if we didn't have this silly parlour game to parade before the world.

My cousin Susan insists on bringing her stinky dog when she visits. It has never been trained, terrorises the cat, and has usually rolled in something dead which it transfers to the carpet. How do I tell her her dog isn't welcome, though she is?

Bill, Lewes

Hold a finger in the air and say, loudly and clearly, "Susan! No! Leave it!". If that doesn't work, a smart tug on the choke chain should sort things out. Reward her with chocolate drops when she gets the message.

What should I pack for a cruise?

Rachel, Hereford

I don't suppose it matters, Rachel. No one on a cruise will have the faintest idea of correct dress, anyway.

Just as my career was going to hell in a handbasket, an unlikely champion came along in the form of a celebrated pornographer, who has been discrediting my enemies with brutal accuracy. Obviously I'm grateful, but would you say that this was a good thing, or a bad thing?

Bill, Maryland

Who cares if it's good or bad? It's hilarious, and that's the important thing.

I've been working hard to become rich, yet sometimes people sneer at me for being avaricious. I think they're hypocrites. Can you name one person who doesn't want to be a millionaire? Mother Teresa's dead, so don't try that one.

Mark, Basildon

Two, actually, Mark. Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch.

Knotty problems with the world today? Write to The Independent, 18th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL