Dear Auntie Ag

I am recently retired and have suddenly realised, after 27 years of marriage, that my wife does not talk or, I suspect, think about anything except food and gardening. Worse, she expects me to be enthusiastic. How can I get her to talk about something else?

Derek, Warrington

Auntie Ag: Honestly, darling! It just shows how little notice you've been taking of her all these years and bloody well serves you right. Instead of just leaving her in the house all day for 27 years, then suddenly deciding she's not up to your entertainment requirements, why don't you try entertaining her - take her on holiday or to the movies, offer to make her a hat or cook her a seven-course curry. It might give you something else to talk about, too.

My cleaner has been coming to me for years and always buys me ghastly presents for Christmas and birthdays which obviously have to go on display - clocks made out of strange plates, plastic Chinese lamps. It has reached the point where my flat can't absorb any more without being taken over. It is my birthday soon and I can't face the thought of expressing delight at another monstrosity. What shall I do?

Geraldine, Barnsbury

Auntie Ag: Think of something small, fool-proof and inexpensive. Tell her you are not expecting a present, but your flat is so full, you're asking everyone who buys you a present for, say, CDs or flower bulbs. You only have to play the CD when she's there and if the bulbs are for something hideous, pretend they never sprouted.

My mother has a little house not far from me and has suddenly begun to live in a state of indescribable squalor and taken up smoking and drinking enormous amounts of sherry. I've tried going round and clearing up. I've tried employing a cleaner. I've tried talking to social services and asking them to reason with her, but she will have none of it and says she has spent 82 years clearing up and has decided she likes things mucky and wants to end her days having a bit of fun. The trouble is everyone is starting to gossip about the fact that she is going senile and I am neglecting her, and I seem to get barbed comments wherever I go.

Sheila, Cheshire

Auntie Ag: What are you more worried about, darling, your mother's fun, or your reputation? She has got every right to live like she wants at the end of her days, but I suggest you take her firmly by the ear and say you love her too much to have her eaten by rats or slumping insensible with drink and setting the armchair on fire, so you're going to keep an eye on her. Ask social services to do the same and make sure at least someone pops in every day. Tell your good friends exactly what's going on and everybody else to mind their own bloody business.

My boyfriend likes wearing my flowery kimono too much. I am finding it off-putting and worrying. What shall I do?

Adrienne, Bristol

Auntie Ag: Get rid of it, darling. Buy a nice, plain, manly man's one instead.

THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

Do you think it would be a bad idea to sleep with a very good male friend, just once, just for the sex? I am not going out with anyone.

Hannah, Eastbourne

Auntie Ag: Not necessarily - but then if you've got a very good male friend who you want to have raw, mindless sex with that much, why just do it just the once?

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

My girlfriend insists on cuddling me at night. It's not that I don't love her, but I need to sleep in my own bit of the bed without another creature kissing and stroking me. When I'm half asleep it drives me nuts and I'm terrified I'm going to punch her or something, like those men who dream they are in a war and strangle their wives.

Daniel, Highgate

Auntie Ag: Just tell her. Make sure you give her a wholehearted cuddle prior to sleeping, then declare yourself firmly out of bounds till morning, unless fully awake and aware of not being a POW in bed with Jerry, when you will give her another full and enthusiastic cuddle. But don't be too specific about the strangling, darling, or you may find her preferring to sleep with another battalion altogether.

My girlfriend of two months bought me a baby rabbit for Easter. What the f**k am I going to do?

Craig, Consett

Auntie Ag: Oh dear, she's obviously in to an Easter bunny, broody thing. Why not tell her she's such a natural with it, you think it should live with her.

There's a boy who lives near me who I really fancy and who's always really friendly to me. I have asked him out twice - once for a drink, and once to a party of a friend of mine. Both times he has stressed he would really like to come but has not been able to. Should I ask him again?

Clare, Co Tyrone

Auntie Ag: No. Never pursue a man too hard. It will only make you unhappy.

Uncle Ony returns from sabbatical next week.

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