Last week you published a letter from my eight-year-old daughter, who wants to go to Disneyland. The first I knew of this was when she asked me what "impotence" meant. Potentially this could have been very embarrassing. I think the advice you gave was fine but couldn't you have couched it in a way more appropriate to a child?
Aunty Ag: Not guilty. I pass you over to my esteemed colleague.
Uncle Ony: Rather than castigating me, I think you should be grateful to me for providing the opportunity to extend your daughter's vocabulary. There is nothing in any way embarrassing about the use of the word impotence to imply powerlessness, which is the context in which I used it. No wonder children today have such poor word power! Tsk.
This morning I received a letter from British Telecom, wimbling on about Friends and Family and discounted rates and how much I could save by signing up for its schemes. I've already had similar letters from other phone companies. My problem is that I can't make head or tail of which offers are best, or indeed how much I'm saving already. Am I particularly stupid?
Marie, via e-mail
Aunty Ag: You certainly are not stupid at all. It takes advanced degrees in applied maths, theosophy and philosophy all combined to stand any chance at all of solving this kind of conundrum. If those naughty phone companies actually set out to make you as confused as possible, they couldn't do a better job. Unless you regularly phone a friend in Ulan Bator or somewhere equally out of the way and can negotiate some super discount on the rates to Outer Mongolia or wherever, probably the amount you would save by changing whatever service you already have will be outweighed by the aggravation involved. Just bin all such communications in future and don't worry about it.
Uncle Ony: If you are worried about the size of your phone bill, why not start writing letters on a more regular basis? A well-written missive is a joy to receive and can be kept and re-read long after the gabble of a phone chat has been erased from the mind. The art of letter-writing is one that is rapidly being lost and needs reviving.
I have wrenched my knee playing football and I am having physiotherapy. Although I am a happily married man, I can't help fancying my physiotherapist, who is really gorgeous. I frequently fantasise about her muscular arms, her taut throat, her toned calves [this letter has been abridged for reasons of space].
Aunty Ag: I'm sure she is quite delightful but I hate to burst your bubble: this young woman looks on you as no more than a heap of bone and muscle to be worked on. She probably has no idea of what you even look like: you are just a job to her, and the second you leave you are forgotten for the next poor sap who is so out of shape he can't even handle Sunday football without doing some part of himself in. I'd forget it.
Uncle Ony: Shame on you, lusting after this poor, unfortunate young woman who is only doing her job! Even if you can't help fantasising, it would be completely inappropriate to take matters even further. If you did, I would have no hesitation in telling her to sue for sexual harassment. I don't know what form your therapy takes, but I strongly advise you to keep all your clothes on throughout.
What would be an appropriate 18th birthday present for our niece? She still lives at home with her parents.
Ronald and Joan, Stockport
Aunty Ag: A nice big suitcase. A subscription to a flat-finding service. A lovely set of cleaning materials, including feather duster and rubber gloves, or maybe a delightful Hoover. Her parents will also appreciate these gifts.
Uncle Ony: How can I possibly recommend anything when I do not know this young lady? The ideal gift should be a particularly appropriate treat that has been personally selected with reference to the recipient's character and interests. I would suggest applying to her parents for suggestions.Reuse content