S, via e-mail
Aunty Ag: Take a good look at this man. Have you ever walked down an aisle with him? Or entered into any legally binding promises of fidelity and unity? If this is the case, then he is your husband and there is no cause for alarm. Did you give birth to him? If so, he is your son and this too is fine. Alternatively, does he pay you money every month? If he does, then he is your lodger and again, no panic is necessary. If he fits into none of these categories and is not immediately recognisable as a member of your family, then call the police. (And if you are taking any medication I'd call your doctor about an alternative as soon as possible.)
Uncle Ony: I cannot possibly give any sensible reply without more information. This kind of vague daffiness is most unhelpful. Who do you think you are, Bridget Jones?
I am getting married in a couple of months' time and the gloss has been completely taken off my big day by watching the royal wedding last weekend. Mine will be utterly pathetic and ordinary in comparison. I won't be having choirs and tiaras and cheering crowds thronging the streets, Andrew Collinge won't be coming round to do my hair, and I haven't a hope in hell of pulling in a pearl necklace from my fiance. I feel completely disillusioned with all my plans now and have lost my enthusiasm for the whole thing.
Aunty Ag: Well, you'd better bite the bullet, Caroline, because that was the last available prince getting hitched. There are no more. That's it. Finito. Unless you can find some obscure Continental one lying around somewhere that no one else wants. Happy hunting.
Uncle Ony: So many people don't think beyond the day itself when they enter into one of the most serious bonds that any human being can have with another. It's like getting pregnant and forgetting that once you've gone through childbirth there will be a baby to look after. Your wedding day, however grand or humble, is nothing but a gateway to your new life beyond. In itself it is insignificant. If all you can think of are the trivia of dress, jewellery and hair then you are doomed to failure from the start. Not only that, but you are an unredeemedly superficial person. If one television broadcast has served to put you off in this way, you should tell your fiance and call things off while there's still time. And this poor man will be well rid of you.
I have a cat which seems to think it is actually a dog. It chases a ball when thrown, and brings it back. It also grabs pieces of string (or anything hanging) and drags me around as if it wants to take me for a walk. I daren't let the cat out because it is short-sighted and has no sense of balance. (It falls off the chair quite regularly at night with no prompting.) The cat has also started making strange noises, almost like a bark. I am worried as I am very fond of the cat and don't want anything nasty to happen to her. Her name is Matilda at the moment. Do you think I should rename her Rover? Would it be a good idea to buy her a collar and lead and take her to dog training classes?
Dave, via e-mail
Aunty Ag: It is a biological fact that cats do not turn into dogs, I'm afraid. If you take Matilda to dog-training classes, the other students will take one look and eat her alive. Why are you spending so much time analysing her behaviour? You should get out more and try to make some human friends.
Uncle Ony: This is a classic case of anthropomorphism. So many owners make the mistake of thinking of their pets as little humans in fluffy coats. Matilda does not "think" she is a dog. Matilda does not "think" at all; she simply reacts instinctively to her environment. I would contend that you have created an environment in which dog-like behaviour is her only option. If you really can't send her outside to act like a genuinely aloof and dignified feline, then you will have to change the parameters of how she lives indoors. To add a touch of authenticity to her life, buy a cage of live mice and let them out in the living room.
Send your problems to Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony at the Independent on Sunday, Canary Wharf, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL or firstname.lastname@example.org.Reuse content