auntie ag & uncle ony

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I have just got back from holiday with a friend. I booked the tickets, but didn't check them. When we got to the airport it turned out the travel company had booked them for the day before. The company said it was my mistake and refused to do anything so we ended up having to pay pounds 200 each to go on the flight we had wanted. I said I'd reimburse my friend for her ticket when I managed to get the money back, but the company still refuses to pay and now my friend is saying I should pay her back anyway. But I feel it is really hard on me and I just can't afford it.

Rachel, Chippenham.

Uncle Ony: One of the main courses of mental dysfunction I see time and time again is an inability to accept responsibility. It was lack of discipline that caused this problem, thinking only of the gratification of the holiday and not the ground work necessary to ensure its smooth running, then a failure to accept responsibility for your lack of discipline. You must do this now. Pay your friend back, and if you need to, take out a bank loan. You will reap the rewards in terms of your spiritual development.

Auntie Ag: (Ony, can I refer you to the Conference on the Speculative Model of Self Realisation in Edinburgh when you bought us tickets to Dublin? Does this mean I can have my pounds 150 back?) Darling, you have to get the money back. Have you written to the managing director? Have you tried your credit card insurance? Where there's a will there's a way, angel. And next time, let the unsympathetic stickler book her own ticket.

Two weeks ago I slept with someone I have known for a long time, at his invitation. In the morning we walked to the Tube, and on the way he said: "So shall I give you a ring, and see you soon?" I said yes, he kissed me goodbye, and I haven't heard from him since. I'm really hurt. What to do?

Sarah, Newcastle.

Uncle Ony: You are exhibiting clear signs of passive dependency, allowing your equilibrium and sense of self worth to be dependent on a phone call. Everyone understands the currency of early dating. You were both experimenting and this is a perfectly acceptable way of his telling you he doesn't want to proceed further. If we are to be able to enjoy the pleasures of love, we must be able to accept the risks. Dealing with a rejection like this is just a part of adulthood.

Auntie Ag: (For God's sake, Ony. Even men know it's not nothing to sleep with someone and it's just mean of him to assume the strong position and leave the poor girl hanging in limbo). You have my sympathy, darling, this sort of thing is hell. If he's worth it, that is a friend you care about, you could be big-hearted, call him and say if he hasn't been in a coma for a fortnight he's very rude and if he takes you out for a nice lunch you might forgive him. But frankly, I'd have a night out of ranting about it with the girls and put him firmly in the mental wastepaper basket. Whatever you do, don't sleep with him again. The last thing a girl needs is a chap who isn't a gentleman.

Are wedding lists naff? I think they are and it seems grasping and materialistic to encourage people to pay for token bread knives by credit card. But my mother and girlfriend say I'm being ridiculous and I will end up with a 150 unsightly bowls.

Stephen, Wiltshire

Uncle Ony: I understand. A marriage is a public celebration, not a shopping by proxy opportunity. I think you have serious reason to worry about your relationship if your girlfriend insists on dismissing your point of view, and looking to her mother, rather than you for guidance. It may be wise to delay the wedding a little and to seek a course of relationship counselling before taking such a step. You may find you avoid a mistake, and I'm not speaking in the financial sense here.

Auntie Ag: Well, if you have the storage space for 150 bowls, and can remember to put the right one out every time you have a visitor, then stick to your guns. But wedding traditions tend to be there for a very good reason. Why deprive your wife-to-be of lovely presents and cause your guests present-buying headaches just to be hoity-toity.

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

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