Your Cut-Out-And-Keep Guide To Perfect Modern Manners

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The Independent Culture
Dear Serena,

While I was in the army, I indulged in a spot of rumpy-pumpy with a hearty filly wed to a former naval officer. Much to my surprise, I discovered that the fling had not scotched my chances of promotion in the army, and that my time in the forces had made me practically unemployable when I retired. So I did what any red-blooded male would do and wrote a memoir of our goings-on in the hayshed. After all, it did Alan Clark's reputation no end of good and earned him a tidy sum as well.

Thing is, to my surprise, I seem to have become Middle England's favourite hate figure. Hardly anyone in the hunt will give me the time of day, and my mother's old rectory is besieged by outraged members of the press. I know I should be happy at least about the money, but how might I go about rehabilitating myself with my peers? I wouldn't mind, but I come from Middle England myself.

Jimbo, Devon

Well, Jimbo, if you come from Middle England as you claim, you should be able to see the solution to your problem staring you in the face. All you need to do is get a 16-year-old to burgle your home, and blow him away with a shotgun. If you can murder someone associated with Travellers, or at the very least Scroungers, you will go from villain to hero overnight.

Despite an excellent upbringing, our 12-year-old daughter is pregnant and wants to keep the baby. We are only 32 ourselves. Is there anything we can do to make the situation better? If not now, at least in the future?

Rob and Diana, Shrewsbury

Make sure your daughter stores all her clothes where they won't be affected by moth. Then, when the Nineties Retro trend comes round a decade or so from now, the child will be, if a girl, the perfect age and body size for them, which will save everyone a load of money. Also: if the next generation follows the family trend, you will have 15 or so great-great- grandchildren to share the cost of keeping you in your twilight years when your pension arrangements turn out to be woefully inadequate.

I have recently been having terrible trouble with insomnia. I lie awake at night on a regular basis suffering from nameless existential fears and a formless dread of unknown perils lying in wait for me. As I'm self- employed I really can't afford to sleepwalk through the day. Do you have any patent remedies for sleeplessness? I am desperate.

Sue, Durham

Your primary actions should be to sit down and just get that tax form sorted out, or put all your receipts into some order and get them sent off to the accountant. You will find that it really doesn't take more than a day to do, either way, and, once that weight is off your mind, sleep may well follow.

My wife won't let me watch Carry On films. I thought that we were allowed to enjoy them again, now that we are in the post-feminist age?

Giles, Maidenhead

No, no, no. Do keep up. We're also in the post-post-ironic age as well. Which means that you're only allowed to laugh at things if they're actually funny. Which means that, with the exception of Carry on Up the Khyber, anyone who enjoys watching these films is once again a truly sad individual.

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