Louisa Saunders

Louisa Saunders is associate features editor of The Independent and writes a weekly advice column, The Help Desk, for the Independent on Sunday’s New Review magazine

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Champs perform at The Lexington in London

Champs, The Lexington, gig review

Multi-layered sound sets small venue alight

The help desk: 'My sister is a perfectionist and being with her makes me feel inadequate'

Q. Recently, I've been seeing a lot more of my older sister – we have small children the same age, and we are also involved together in organising a ruby wedding party for our parents. We usually get on quite well, and I do love her, but she's driving me mad. She's always been a high-achiever, and she's quite competitive.

The help desk: A case of unwanted flirty advances from a colleague

Q. I recently met a man at a work-training weekend, and we got on really well. We shared the same sense of humour – and the same quite cynical attitude to our line of work – and we had a great time. We exchanged numbers. I felt keen to keep in touch, but only as friends. He texted me the very next day, just with some fun stuff – but also asking when we were going to meet up again. Since then, he has kept on texting.

The help desk: 'I don't like my brother's fiancée'

Q. I have an older brother I'm close to, and I've tried to get on with his fiancée, but it's not easy and I usually try to see him on his own. To be honest, he's never had great taste in women. This girlfriend is 10 years younger than him and quite a lot less intelligent. She is very pretty, but seems obsessed with her looks. She also talks non-stop.

The help desk: 'I'm writing my will - should I divide everything equally between my children?'

'It is not your business to equalise their status in life at this late stage'

The help desk: 'My mother has sold my childhood home and I feel desperately sad. What's wrong with me?'

'In mourning its loss, you are mourning your parents' marriage and your father'

The help desk: 'I have developed a fixation with death - how can I relax and enjoy life?'

'Bereavement counselling could help you to put your fears in proportion'

The help desk: How do I maintain my New Year's resolution to be more active?

Q. Every year at New Year, I swear I will exercise more, and every year I manage to stick to my resolution for only about a month. I'm 38 and starting to be aware that sitting at a desk all day is terrible for my health. I've never smoked and I hardly drink – but nor did my mother and she died of breast cancer at 59.

The help desk: My young grandson likes to dress up in girls' clothes but my daughter-in-law discourages him

Q. My lovely grandson is six years old and not at all a typical boy. He's obsessed with Disney films, and when I used to take him to playgroup he always rushed to put on the girls' dressing-up clothes. I know he likes to wear his sister's clothes, too.

The help desk: 'My girlfriend has lost her job and now I dread going home'

Q. My girlfriend lost her job about six months ago, and things have been really difficult between us ever since. It was a real shock – we are both dedicated to our jobs, and she was the one who earnt more. She's freelancing from home while looking for a new permanent job; the prospects for this seem good, and fortunately, money is not too much of a problem at this point.

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