Counselling: Auntie ag

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the tory of my life

I am a floating voter, while my husband is a life-long Tory supporter who takes a great interest in local politics. Unfortunately, on election night, I got rather over-excited and let slip that I had voted Labour this time round. We live in a marginal seat that went Labour, and my husband was simply furious when our results were declared (by a wide margin, so it wasn't my vote that made the difference). Since then he has barely spoken to me - and it has been three weeks! He seems to be blaming me for the entire Tory fiasco, which strikes me as rather unfair.

Leonora, Battersea

Auntie Ag: Yes, it is a bit unfair. I don't think you can possibly take responsibility for the entire general election result (good thing too, angel, or half the country would be queueing up to shake your hand and the others would be plotting your immediate demise). I would encourage him to dwell on the positive aspects of supporting a party that isn't in power. Tell him to just think of all the fun he'll be able to have, harrumphing and questioning and fulminating and snorting at council meetings, instead of just sitting there quietly nodding and agreeing in the back row. And remember in future, darling, ballots are secret for a reason.

swatch with mother

We are moving to a big new house shortly and my parents-in-law are putting up a large proportion of the cash. They think this means they can dictate the area we move to, the kind of house we buy, and my mother-in-law has even started turning up for coffee with handfuls of paint charts and fabric swatches and a meaningful look in her eye. I can't really tell the interfering old camel to sod off because they are helping us financially, but I can't stand it much longer. My husband can't see why it bothers me that his mother has already decided on white-with-a-hint-of-oatmeal for the third spare bedroom and shell pink for the bathroom accessories. He says he quite likes oatmeal and pink, in fact.

Angela, Basingstoke

Auntie Ag: Darling, first of all, under no circumstances agree to white with a hint of anything at all. Throw yourself with a great burst of enthusiasm into theoretical redecorating, but think Isadora Duncan crossed with Tony Hart and start talking about dramatic reds, wild, free-spirited oranges, clashing sunbursts of canary yellow. Your mother-in-law will be horrified, and you can then gradually tone things down and agree to lovely shades of terracotta and midnight blue. She will be so relieved the house isn't going to look like the interior of McDonald's that she will agree to anything within reason. But, angel, are you being quite fair? She may be an interfering old camel, but she is handing over the cash, after all. Has your husband considered getting a lovely little mortgage all of his own? Bank managers never recommend shell pink.

shy lips are sealed

A good friend of mine called Sally is a keen Internet surfer and recently discovered an on-line dating service. She got in touch with two men using her computer, asked them out for a drink, and invited me along. I was expecting the worst, but they were both really friendly and handsome and I got on really well with them. The problem was Sally got totally tongue- tied straightaway, sat in silence all evening, then stormed out, accusing me of hogging the conversation and chatting them both up (I wasn't). Since then, I have tried going round and ringing her but she just won't talk to me.

Laura, Newcastle

Auntie Ag: I am not surprised, darling, she has obviously forgotten how to speak. Send her a conciliatory e-mail, that should do the trick.

sweat talkin' woman

The most gorgeous man in the universe goes to the same health centre as me, and we occasionally smile and say hello. We also see each other in the health-centre cafe quite often. But the trouble is that I am always red-faced, damp-haired and sweating, dressed in baggy old track-suits and T-shirts (no matter how long I keep going there, I will never have the kind of shape that looks good in Lycra). I would love to get to know him better, and he has certainly been making eye-contact and smiling at me, which is obviously a good sign, but how can I stop him being put off by the fact that he only ever sees me at my worst?

Lydia, Dunfermline

Auntie Ag: Well, if he only sees you at your worst, and he's still interested, angel, whatever can be worrying you? (Don't forget, men also get red-faced and sweaty, so he is possibly even more gorgeous than you think seen in a non-gym situation, with perhaps a glass of champagne in his hand.) Don't worry about Lycra. Frankly, turning up anywhere decked out in a neon-pink, second skin is frightfully obvious and the baggy tracksuit will preserve your air of mystery. However, for the next few weeks, wear some lovely underwear beneath it and keep going to the gym, but under no circumstances do any exercise. Hang around in the cafe, looking pale, dry and interesting, and when he comes in, smile. He is sure to come and join you for a banana and strawberry juice or whatever one drinks in such places. Slip a stunning little dress into your sports bag, and, if things go well, get changed and move on to the nicest wine bar that you can think of.

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