Aunty Ag Uncle Ony

If you're stuck on a thorny problem, Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony can help. This week, health regimes that ruin relationships and a reluctant birthday girl...


About five months ago, my friend Charles gave up smoking, after years of trying. His lover, Cherisse, also stopped. They both went on a diet and joined a fitness club, cut down their drinking, went to bed early and avoided caffeine. After a few weeks, they both changed from pallid, coughing slobs to relatively trim and healthy-looking people. Two of their friends, Jane and Graham, were so impressed with their friends' new look that they fell in love with them and, by Christmas, Jane was having a torrid affair with Charles, and Graham with Cherisse. Now, Charles and Cherisse have drifted apart. This troubles them deeply, for, when they were over-eating slugs, they loved each other to bits, but now they're fit, their love is on the rocks.

Mark, via e-mail

Aunty Ag: Is she really called Cherisse? With a name like that and a gorgeous new body, she could consider a career in naughty films. After all that work and effort, Charles and Cherisse certainly should not relapse into slugdom. Could it be that, when they were together, pretty much all they had in common was a mutual passion for fags, booze and chips? Perhaps, sad though it may seem, it's time for them to move on separately into the brave new world of guarana, Aqua Libra and salad.

Uncle Ony: What a sorry mess. I really cannot hold out much hope for the Charles/Jane and Graham/Cherisse liaisons. They are based on that most ephemeral of phenomena: physical lust. It is those who love us when we are fat, pallid slobs that really love us. Those who simply have a passing fancy for a pert bosom or muscled buttock are not the ones who stick by us. Charles and Cherisse have, unfortunately, been carried away by their new physiques into a sad moral abyss of fornication. I fear that now the trust between them has been destroyed, they will not get back together in a meaningful way. However, in case anyone might be tempted to use this tale as an excuse to lead a healthy life in order to gain a new relationship: giving up smoking and getting fit does not mean adultery is a foregone conclusion. Simply work on your moral fibre as well as your physical muscle!


I didn't get a single card on St Valentine's Day. I feel very sad and upset, and also unattractive.

Maureen, Dublin

Aunty Ag: Oh, darling, never mind. You do know that Valentine's cards are supposed to come from secretive admirers. Evidently your admirers (and I'm sure they are legion) are very secretive indeed - in fact, too furtive to send a card.

Uncle Ony: Valentine's Day is no more than a manufactured commercial opportunity, puffed up by the makers and purveyors of trashy cards and gifts to part the foolish from their cash. I didn't get a single card either - no, not one! But I feel proud, yes, proud that no one I know fell for this blatant and ugly example of consumer exploitation!


A friend of mine (female) has a birthday coming up. She never wants to be reminded of her birthdays as she is now well into her 30s and paranoid about ageing. On the other hand, she flies into a big sulk if one doesn't get her a nice gift. How can I get her a birthday present without reminding her of her birthday?

Robert, Strathclyde

Aunty Ag: Rather than turning her birthday into a big occasion, why not give her lots of charming little presents on unexpected and completely random dates throughout the year? Then you will be able to avoid the Evil Day itself without her feeling under-gifted and resentful.

Uncle Ony: Gently help your friend to change her perception of getting older: to see her middle-aged years as a time of ripening and maturing, not of wrinkling and fading. Carry out some positive reinforcement by providing some aspirational elderly role models. Point out the shining examples of Sharon Stone, Francesca Annis, Gloria Hunniford, all of whom grow more lusciously luminous with every passing year. Persuade your chum to keep in trim: recommend some appropriate diet and exercise plans (consult your local bookstore and buy her a few inspiring volumes on keeping one's figure under control). Encourage her to have a few judicious nips and tucks here and there: cosmetic surgeons can work wonders these days, especially if they can get started early enough. Thus empowered, she will welcome each birthday with joy, and you will be able to offer your gift to her without fear of reproach!

Send your problems to: What's Your Problem?, Real Life, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, or e-mail Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony regret that they are unable to enter into any personal correspondence.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Linux Systems Administrator

    £33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

    (Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice