Auntie Ag

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Vile body

I have a very unpleasant problem. A rather senior member of staff sits at the desk next to mine and he is, quite frankly, disgusting. He belches, farts, mutters to himself and sneezes all over me. But the last straw was last week when he began excavating in his belly button. He is so fat that we are horribly squeezed up together and, quite apart from the visual aesthetics of all this, I'm worried about catching something.

Louella, Southampton

Auntie Ag: A very tricky situation, darling! Yelling "Oh, stop that at once!" certainly won't enhance your chances of advancement, so you must be more subtle. Start by investing in a desk-top fan. Set it up facing away from you, angel, and anything noxious in the air will be blown right back at the vile old toad. Meanwhile, sharing desk space is quite unacceptable. Work is only part of the office experience and how are you to ring your friends, arrange lunches and shopping trips with Mr Toad listening in? Remember, if you are worried about catching something (and I don't blame you) you could also pass something on. Tell him, in the strictest confidence, that you are suffering from some mildly debilitating, highly contagious illness, and you'll have your own darling little office in no time.

home rule

I decided to teach my daughters, who are 11 and 13, about equality and democracy. So, I set up a family council, on which the three of us have an equal vote. This worked wonderfully well when it came to organising things like days out and who gets what flavour of yogurt, but now things have backfired on me rather horribly. At our last meeting, the girls put "moving house" on the agenda. After a heated debate, in which they totally ignored my very valid objections, they each produced pounds 20 as their contribution towards the cost of a new place, and voted that we move to the south coast. Obviously, this is out of the question, but how can I get out of it without abandoning the very principles that I set out to instil?

Chloe, Birmingham

Auntie Ag: First of all, darling, congratulations on the very authentic flavour of your in-house debate - it's just like the election all over again! What a pair of little minxes you have there. While minxy behaviour is all very well in its place, and often much to be encouraged, on this occasion they are taking it all a bit too far. What you should do, angel, is carry the spirit of equality to its logical conclusion. If they have both put in pounds 20, you put in pounds 20 as well, and send them off to the estate agent to see what they can find. That should sort out the immediate crisis. Meanwhile, darling, widen the scope of your political studies. Why not introduce the notion of the benevolent dictatorship? This means you get to spend the housekeeping money on lots of lovely little trinkets and new clothes, and they get to come shopping with you and carry the bags.

growing pains

We have recently moved to a house with a lovely garden. I never had much interest in gardening before, but now I have got started I am spending all my time out there, and find it far more fun tending my herbaceous borders and organic compost heap than seeing my friends or going to parties. I live in my holey, old sweater and wellies these days!! Is it possible that I am becoming a bore, and if so, what should I do?

Suzanna, Hastings

PS My Fritillaria camschatcensis look as though they are going to be magnificent this year, despite the attentions of hordes of pesky slugs!!!

Auntie Ag: Hire a little man for the herbaceous borders, angel, and book in for a course of intensive shopping therapy immediately.

star wars

My girlfriend is beautiful, gorgeous, clever, funny and the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. But she won't even consider us getting a place together because she says our star signs aren't compatible. Do you believe in horoscopes? Should I take any notice? I am getting absolutely frantic at the notion that my entire life may be ruined by the fact that I've got Jupiter in my rising sign (or something).

Colin, Bassetlaw

Auntie Ag: Well, darling, I can't help thinking there must be a tiny grain of truth in it all, because I am an uncannily typical Gemini - brilliant, mercurial, witty. However, I do agree that one can take these things too far. Just one tiny thought, angel: are you sure she really wants to move in with you and isn't just making a polite excuse to spare your feelings? If, however, you are sure her objections are genuinely astrological, you must look up her (and your) new signs, taking into account the thirteenth sign of the Zodiac. When this thirteenth sign was discovered, it was an absolute godsend to people who thought they had always been misunderstood - the entire planet resounded to cries of "I always knew I was far too feisty to be Cancer!" and so on and so forth. One word of caution, angel - you may find that under your new signs you are even less compatible than you are now. So, I would choose a sympathetic astrologer who knows the situation to re-cast your charts.

Uncle Ony is accompanying members of the Conservative Party on an extended visit to the Center for Interpersonal Vision Realignment in Syracuse, USA.

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