SCENT OF A WOMAN

A woman who sits near me at work has the most piercing body odour; a smell so concentrated it physically impedes the job that I am doing. The problem is so serious I would tell her directly, but for the fact that she is my boss's wife. But she stinks so badly that I have to leave when she passes me or is in the near vicinity.

Luke, London

UNCLE ONY: All humans have body odour, including you, Luke! Scent is an essential carrier of pheromones, the odours of attraction and sensuality, so concentrate on breathing in without making value judgements about so- called "BO" and you may even find you start to enjoy it.

AUNTIE AG: Oh, for heaven's sake, Ony, no-one can enjoy a situation where they want to wear a gas mask at work. Sadly, this is one of the most ticklish of office problems. Telling someone that they smell is a sure way to make them hate you forever, darling, so the absolutely vital thing is to make sure that the bad news comes from someone else. Approach your personnel officer and explain the situation (better still, get a workmate who shares your horror to do it) and let them shoulder the burden. At least if she's the boss's wife she'll be able to afford lots of lovely soaps and perfumes, angel.

A MESSAGE TO YOU RUDY

I have got one of those fabulous phones that send text messages, so I can still use my phone in places where noisy mobiles are banned - especially useful in restaurants and such places. I assume this is socially acceptable - isn't it?

Richard, Croydon

UNCLE ONY: Communication is vital for human well-being, Richard. In this age where no one takes time to exchange the niceties that keep the social wheels turning, any little technical contribution towards people reaching out can only welcome.

AUNTIE AG: Well, it's acceptable up to a point, angel, but don't overdo it. Being with someone in a restaurant who is text-messaging is a bit like being with someone who's reading a book - everyone else feels terribly left out and as though they might be missing something.

THE EX FILES

My partner was dumped by his ex-wife in the most atrocious way, but he maintains that they had a good marriage and that we have no future together because I'm too different from her! I have tried to be patient, but I cannot get him to do things with me and I am lucky if he wants to sleep with me once a month - but he thinks nothing of phoning me in the middle of the night if he feels down. I know he phones his ex regularly and suspect he still sees her. He is the sweetest guy alive, but I feel that if I don't do something soon, he'll dump me for someone else as soon as he's over the whole thing.

Fiona, Aberdeen

UNCLE ONY: Your partner is still working through the grieving process for his ex-wife. You should think of him as a fragile, bereaved soul and give him plenty of space. In the meantime, it is vital that you remain your own person and do not seek to emulate her. He who has drunk deep at the well of bitterness welcomes sweet waters, as our friends the Native Americans say. Concentrate with every fibre of your psyche on being those sweet waters.

AUNTIE AG: "Sweetest guy alive", angel? Well, thank goodness he isn't, or heaven knows what the rest of us would be left with. This has gone on bloody long enough! He is treating you like some kind of surrogate wife; before you know where you are some international ethics board will be coming along to investigate you. Propose a holiday together - a long one. If he won't come with you, then go on your own and don't leave a phone number. Making yourself a little less available will probably make him realise your worth; if he doesn't, cut your losses, darling.

SINK OR HIM

I recently moved in with my boyfriend and everything is wonderful, except that I can't help spending far too long in the bathroom. My basic routine, which takes care of eyes (contact lenses), face (cleanse, tone, moisturise) and teeth (floss and brush) takes at least 20 minutes and by the time I enter the bedroom, all clean and sparkling, my boyfriend is a snoring heap beneath the duvet. Can I turn into one of those women who can leap in and out of bed, sans ablutions, and still look wonderful? Or do they only exist in films?

Christine, London E2

UNCLE ONY: Like so many women, you think that men are only interested in your exterior; inner beauty is what counts, Christine, and that shines through without a complicated bathroom routine. Throw caution to the winds every so often and dare to go to bed without cleansing and toning and brushing your teeth! It is the uninhibited breaking of routines that keeps the sparkle in relationships (but don't neglect your contact lenses, you might catch something nasty).

AUNTIE AG: Twenty minutes in the bathroom is a mere airy nothing, angel, you are to be congratulated on the slickness of your routine. (Incidentally, do you never exfoliate or use a beauty masque?) Those women in films are simply acting, darling, and far from leaping around sans ablutions have a whole team of make-up artistes at their beck and call. If you want to do this you will need to move to a very large house to fit them all in. Much simpler to make sure you get in the bathroom first, then even if he drops off, he will have to wake up again to clean his teeth.

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