auntie ag & uncle ony

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I've just got back from the hairdresser's in floods of tears. I went in with lovely, soft, shoulder-length blonde hair and said I was growing the layers out but wanted it tidied up. "Paulo" cut it out with a great flourish and an electric razor. When he had finished, it was completely horribly layered all over. I said I wasn't happy, but he insisted I'd said I wanted layers, and whooshed it about and said it looked marvellous. I felt so embarrassed that I ended up agreeing with him and paying my forty quid. I'm so miserable, I don't want to go to work or see anyone.

Diana, Kingston

Uncle Ony: The issue here, Diana, is not hair, but low self-esteem and lack of authority. You have allowed yourself to be duped into allowing a cut which you did not want, and which you could see happening; you have been bullied into acceptance, and have so little sense of your own worth that a simple change of hairstyle leaves you feeling you have no place in the world. You must seek counselling urgently, to begin the slow, painful task of finding and strengthening your self-belief and authority. Do not mourn the lost hair, but rejoice at this turning point, a trigger for a stronger, better you.

Auntie Ag: Oh for God's sakes Ony, that's just the sort of nonsense you'd come out with if you were Paulo and had just massacred someone's hair. Of course you're upset, darling. There's nothing worse. Take the day off work. Go back to the hairdresser's, preferably with a friend, and make a huge, loud fuss that becomes so embarrassing for stupid Paulo that you end up feeling totally purged and with your forty quid in your hand. Then find the best, most highly recommended hairdresser you can afford. Go with your forty quid, and ask them to make you look pretty - which they will. Any trichological disaster can be turned to good in the right hands. Don't let them touch you until you know exactly what they're going to do to you. Then take a big breath, two hours to get ready the next morning with your nicest clothes, make-up and perfume, and your head held high. And in future, remember the only way to behave with a hairdresser is like a fussy, bossy and very aggressive hawk.

My mother, who is 68, always used to insist on doing everything for me when I went home which used to really annoy me. Now I've just got back from a weekend with her absolutely exhausted. She sat in a chair for the entire time, and got me to clean all the windows, tidy up the loft, and sew buttons back onto all her blouses. I feel furious and exploited.

James, Dublin

Uncle Ony: You are right to be discomfited, for your mother is using household tasks in order to control. Seeing that her attempts to control through sacrifice have failed, she is attempting to reverse the situation and control by demanding sacrifice on your part. Together you need to learn to heal and grow. Next time you visit, help your mother willingly, but ask her to help you too, to show that she is loved and valuable to you. That way - need I say it! - you will be manifesting a Win/Win situation!

Auntie Ag: Your mother is a woman after my own heart who has finally seen the light after years of drudgery. As I often say to my own children - I gave them the gift of life, so they can bloody well clean out the loft for me in my dotage. If you really can't bear it, though angel, why don't you distract her by taking her out to lunch and get a man to do it?

A friend of mine recently took me out to dinner and I slept with him afterwards. I don't want a relationship. It was just a nice, cosy thing to do. Should I write a thank-you note for the dinner?

Lola, Brighton

Uncle Ony: What a refreshing attitude. I do feel however, that your apparent insouciance belies a problem, possibly a sexual one. If you would care to contact me again, we could perhaps discuss this in a little more depth, possibly over lunch.

Auntie Ag: No, darling, I rather think he's been thanked quite enough.

(And please don't contact Ony: he'll only end up being struck off again.)

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