auntie ag & uncle ony

I have just unwrapped my Christmas present from a girlfriend of mine and she has given me a shopping trolley. It is, I suppose, a very stylish shopping trolley, but nevertheless I am really hurt and insulted. She is quite a lot younger than me and I just know she is trying to make a horrible joke and imply that I am frumpy. I can't understand why anyone would want to turn Christmas into something so hurtful. Should I return it with a curt note?

Caroline, Barnes

Uncle Ony: Yours is the problem, Caroline, not your friend's. You, however, are clearly unhappy about your image and lifestyle. If your friend's gift reflects this at all it is only because she has sensed your inner insecurities and is reflecting them in almost subliminal manner. You must work on self- image and self-esteem.

Auntie Ag: Don't be silly, darling! She's not being a bloody bitch at all. Shopping trolleys are the absolute height of chic this Christmas - so outrageously Stepford wife. I think you should send your friend a delighted thank you letter, ask her if she's got one and suggest you go shopping together with them like Stepford twins, perhaps to buy a couple of poodles!

About two years ago I fell in love with a beautiful girl of 22 and left my wife of 30 years for her. We have just married and went for a wonderful honeymoon in the Caribbean. Unfortunately I sat on a sea urchin while scuba diving and had to spend a few days in hospital. My new wife didn't come to visit me and when I got back to the room I found her in bed with one of the waiters who was well built and half my age. We tried to carry on with the honeymoon as best we could but I feel totally humiliated.

Peter, Welwyn Garden City

Uncle Ony: Whatever you do, you must not allow the behaviour of your new wife to undermine your self-esteem, or sense of your attractiveness and sexual potency. The problem is hers, and she must "own" it: immaturity, fear of intimacy, insecurity leading her to demand the reassurance of sexual attention from men at all times. I suggest you speak to her about these problems and perhaps seek counselling together.

Auntie Ag: Darling, I'm afraid you're rather getting a taste of your own medicine and you bloody well deserve it. What about your wife's sense of her own "attractiveness and sexual potency" when you decided to swap her for a 22-year-old? What would you think if your wife married a 20- year-old boy, took him to the Caribbean, then found him in bed with a girl his own age? Would you think he had an intimacy problem or that she was somewhat self-deluded about why he'd married her in the first place? If your dismal view of the world is one in which women have a sexual sell-by date and must expect to be dumped when they pass it, you can't bloody well complain when you discover that you've got one, too.

I have been married for two years and my husband and I were overjoyed when we found out I was pregnant. I thought my mother, who is divorced and very glamourous, would be delighted too, as this is her first grandchild. Instead she went all funny, drank a bottle of champagne, stood and stared out of the window with a tragic air, pulling on a cigarette in a cigarette holder and said, "Oh God, it makes me feel so f---ing old." How selfish can you get? I'm really hurt and don't feel like having anything more to do with her.

Jenny, Peckham

Uncle Ony: You are right to be hurt and angry. Your mother is indulging in some sort of existential crisis, refusing to acknowledge her own mortality. Write a note to her explaining this, and saying that you and your unborn child are feeling deeply negative vibes from her aura and that you would prefer not to see her until she is able to open her heart and acknowledge the life-force of the universe.

Auntie Ag: Don't you dare be so mean, darling. No one wants to grow old and die, and we're all subject to a little existential crisis at various watersheds in our lives: first liver spot; first face-lift; first grandchild and so on. It doesn't make us bad people. Lighten up a bit. Give her a few days to get used to it, then behave as if nothing has happened. Make a bit more fuss of her than usual - buy her a new lipstick, or exotic soap. Once the baby arrives she will be so besotted you'll wish she was avoiding you.

I recently became engaged to a gorgeous airline pilot who flies to all sorts of glamorous long-haul destinations, and we exchanged rings. I've noticed, however, that he never wears his ring to work. I recently challenged him with this, and he says its because he doesn't want to wear ring in cockpit because his fingers swell up. I think, however, it's because he wants to pull stewardesses.

Charlotte, Hounslow

Uncle Ony: Your fiancee is telling the truth. It is a medically proved fact that body parts do swell up in the sky. The problem is yours, not his, and it is a problem of trust.

Auntie Ag: Darling, fingers aren't the only body parts which are inclined to swell up in the sky but this isn't a problem limited to pilots. If a man's got a wandering eye he'll be trouble whatever his job. Have a think over the next few months: are you being paranoid, or is he the sort of man who always leaves you feeling less than loved? A man like that will never make you happy.

You are invited to send your problems to: Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony, Real Life, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. However, Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony regret that they are both unable to enter into any personal correspondence

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