For years I have been keeping the fact that I am gay from my parents, who have always been rather stiff. Recently I moved in with my boyfriend and thought the time had come to break it to them. They were completely traumatised at first, but then my mother started taking an interest in gay issues, making a huge effort to be friendly to my boyfriend, inviting us to Sunday lunch and generally "being marvellous". The trouble is it has started to get out of hand. She talks to my boyfriend practically every day, describes him as her "best friend", has told everyone at the golf club about us, and has said she would like us to take her to a gay club or on a "gay march". I don't think she has any idea what it would be like and has associated it in her mind with the Gay Gordons. The final straw came last night when she rang my boyfriend and said wouldn't it be a hoot if he came to the NSPCC luncheon with her dressed as a woman. I know she means well but I find the whole thing excruciatingly awful and embarrassing.

Daniel, London WC2

AUNTIE AG: Darling! How scary, but completely understandable. I don't know your mother - at least as far as I know - but I bet you anything she's just completely bored to tears and delighted to have something different happen. It can be marvellously heady to have one's perceptions undergo a massive shift - particularly later in life - and makes the world seem rather thrilling and full of possibilities. Remember, too, that if she's been surrounded by sexist crusty old buffers for years, the idea of a whole new world of men who don't expect women to wash their socks, make steak and kidney pies or sleep with them can be tremendously heartening. You need to find some sort of middle ground between encouraging your boyfriend to arrive at the NSPCC all wigged up in a floral sprig and spoiling your mother's fun. Why don't you just invite her to a little party or something or take her off to Morocco?


Two weeks ago I put in an offer for a flat which was accepted. The couple selling it were really pleased as they had just exchanged on their new property and were desperate to sell to avoid taking out a bridging loan, and they took it off the market. We are almost ready to exchange contracts but I have just been shown another flat which is absolutely my dream home and much nicer than the one I am supposed to be buying. Would it be wrong to pull out of the purchase?

Bernie, Fulham

AUNTIE AG: Hmmm. Funny how there isn't an absolute moral code on this one. You could argue that the period between the offer and the exchange is there for both parties to have time to change their minds, that buying a flat is a big decision - and you're actually only talking about a few days inconvenience for the vendors: but then getting a better offer or finding a better flat doesn't seem quite gentlemanly as a reason for either side to pull out.

The trouble with gazumping and it's opposite equivalent is it makes the world seem such a mean and miserable place Be as human, open and decent as you possibly can. Warn the vendors immediately you have reservations and give them chance to get the flat back on the market and keep their own options open while you weigh up yours. Then if you decide you definitely want to pull out explain, apologise and make some sort of appropriate gesture of compensation - such as paying their solicitor's bill or a week's interest on their bridging loan, if they have to get one. In reality everyone understands the stresses and dilemmas on both sides of the property coin - so you'll still be in with a chance when you get to heaven.


My boyfriend has bought a blow-up doll. I found it in the wardrobe and it wasn't there before. We have sex three times a week so I had no idea that anything was wrong. What is the matter with him? Should I say something or ignore it?

Tina, Bristol

AUNTIE AG: I really can't see what all the fuss is about. A man with a little healthy curiosity can be tremendous fun - so much better than a stuffy old bore! Besides, you could have found something far worse hidden in the wardrobe - your best friend stark naked for example, or a little white goat. Raise the issue if you must, but for God's sakes don't make some ghastly scene about it. Why not simply go out and buy your own blow-up Superman and the next time he gets into bed with you, let him find that Superman's already on top.


I have been going out with David for three months and was completely mad about him until last Sunday night when we were driving back to London on the M1 and there was a huge traffic jam. Instead of waiting patiently like everyone else, he zoomed up the hard shoulder - with everyone honking, making V-signs at him and shouting "wanker" out of their windows - then forced himself back into the queue. It seems ridiculous to fall out of love over such a tiny thing - but I just don't feel the same about him any more. Would it be ridiculous to chuck him over driving etiquette?

Ruth, Hampstead

AUNTIE AG: Absolutely not. There are some things that one can train a man out of but that sort of naff, showy offy arrogant mean-mindedness indicates something rather deep rootedly creepy, that you'll have a terrible job gouging out. Get rid of him, darling. (Unless, of course, he's frighteningly rich.)