Auntie Ag: How nice that they should think you are worth saving. To avoid hurt feelings, the time-honoured strategy of Pretending Not To Be In is a classic. (It's evidently too late in your case for the Pretending To Be Your Own Au Pair Who Doesn't Speak English plan.) However, if you are feeling mischievous, you could try to sell them a timeshare or explain in detail your abiding interest in stamp-collecting. You will need stamina to pull this off effectively, though, and bear in mind they are two against one.
Uncle Ony: Why not invite them in? Closed minds are a curse of the modern world. We should all be more open to other people's ideas, more receptive to alternatives to our own way of life. A lively debate on God's plan for the world could be a most interesting way of passing your Sunday afternoon.
My mum is 75 years old and a crossword fiend. I always buy her books of crosswords for birthdays and Christmases, and the problem is that I have run out. She has all the crossword books that exist and they are all filled in. I am desperate for further inspiration. Please help.
Richard, via e-mail
Auntie Ag: Set up a rota of friends and neighbours to play constant games of Scrabble with her, but get them to make her guess their words before they put them down: a kind of perpetual, ever-changing, crossword- type experience. (You may need to offer substantial bribes to the other players.)
Uncle Ony: Crosswords are all very well, but they are not terribly productive. If your mother has a facility for words, why not encourage her to start learning a new language? This would contain all the elements of deduction, frustration and incomprehension that are present in filling in a crossword, but with a concrete achievement at the end.
For Christmas last year my husband gave me a mobile phone because he wants me to feel safer. The trouble is that I have never wanted one and I have never used it. I don't like mobiles in public places anyway, and most of the time I keep it switched off. I have certainly never got to grips with all the miraculous "functions" it can perform. I don't want to hurt his feelings by admitting his gift is pointless, and wonder if you can suggest any other uses for it.
Auntie Ag: You can have fun with a mobile without ever switching it on. Take this example: a woman was sick of the dirty looks she got whenever she attempted to take bags of shopping home on a crowded commuter train. Finally pushed to the end of her tether by her unaccommodating fellow travellers, she whipped out her mobile as she boarded her train, pretended to dial, and announced loudly: "Thank goodness I looked at the indicator board before I got on! I thought this was the 6.18 to Little Fittlebury, but they've changed the platforms and I've just managed to leap on the 6.17 to Upper Tootleton!" All her fellow passengers within earshot leapt off the train, leaving her with plenty of room for herself and her shopping. I'm sure you can think of plenty of variations on this theme.
Uncle Ony: A mobile phone is a great safety device, assuming your mugger will politely wait while you fish out your phone and dial the police. You would probably do equally well using it as a missile to throw at would- be assailants, frankly. Tell your husband to take it back and get you some nice flowers or perfume instead: a much more suitable gift.Reuse content