counselling Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony

WHOSE BABY?

I have a problem. I recently had an affair with a married woman with whom I work. Unfortunately, she is now expecting a child, despite claiming that she did not want children. She had told me that all marital relationships with her husband - who desperately wants children - had ceased, but it now transpires that this was a lie. An added complication is that I am white while her husband is of Asian origin. Among the whole sorry mess, the question I would like you to address is whether she should continue with the pregnancy to please her husband at the risk of exposing her infidelity?

Alastair, Edinburgh

UNCLE ONY: Once again, the primrose path of sin winds its way down towards the everlasting bonfire. I cannot imagine that this good lady's husband will be in any way, shape or form be "pleased", as you put it, by this pregnancy if it becomes blindingly obvious later on that the baby is not his. When you say he desperately wants children, I must point out that it is his own children he wants, not yours!

AUNTIE AG: This is indeed a sorry mess, angel, but it's not entirely of your making. I'm afraid that fibbing about not sleeping with one's spouse is very poor etiquette when it comes to affairs. I really think that for this one the ball should be in her court; assuming you are willing to give up any claim to the baby, which it sounds from your letter as though you are, it is up to her whether she wants to risk her marriage. (What were you doing about not making babies yourselves, darling? If you can be sure, hand on heart, that you were always careful to use a condom, then your former lover is more than likely in the clear as far as your paternity is concerned.)

SMOKE SCREEN

Since giving up smoking a couple of months ago, I've realised that smoking was the whole purpose and point of my life. I feel lost and bereft without doing it, although obviously I know it's bad for my health. Really, smoking used to cheer up all my activities - now I don't do it any more, I realise that 90 per cent of my working life bores and annoys me, as does maybe 60 per cent of my social life and a good 70 per cent of the time I spend on my own.

Chloe, London SW4

UNCLE ONY: What you need is a hobby. Perhaps something like embroidery or tatting or barbola work would fill up those empty minutes. The intricate detail will keep both your hands and your mind occupied, and soon you will forget all about smoking. And as an added bonus to boot you'll soon have some lovely cushions or mats or plant pot holders!

AUNTIE AG: Oh, poor you, angel. But if your job is rotten, your friends are boring and you are miserable, wouldn't you rather know about it, darling, rather than having all this unhappiness masked by a few lousy fags? At least now that your eyes are open, you can think about doing something about it all.

AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER?

My brother has a beautiful and charming girlfriend of whom I am very fond, as she is very "good" for him (in fact, probably better than he deserves). However, I have recently found out that he is having an affair with the sister of a neighbour. Obviously I don't want to hurt my brother, but I do not feel comfortable with the despicable way he is treating his girlfriend - should I interfere?

Richard, Sutton Coldfield

UNCLE ONY: Your chivalrous instincts do you great credit. There are far too few white knights around these days! However, if you want to preserve the friendship of this young lady be warned: the bearers of bad tidings are seldom thanked. Perhaps you have a mutual female friend who you could enlist to break the news? Women are so much better at this kind of thing.

AUNTIE AG: My instant reaction is to keep your snout right out, to put it rather vulgarly. Although your brother is behaving like a stinker, it sounds to me as though you have an ulterior motive: could you be interested in your brother's girlfriend on your own account, darling? Breaking the news to her that her boyfriend has another interest will not endear you to her. If you are determined to get involved, mention to your brother that you are aware that he is playing fast and loose; he knows that you know his girlfriend, and fear of discovery may encourage him to clean up his act (if that is what you really, really want. I suspect you are more interested in a clear field for yourself).

DOWN ON MY KNEES

My workmates are always making fun of me for always wearing trousers (and yes, I am a girl). I don't want to wear a skirt, though, because (a) I hate my legs, (b) I don't know what shoes to wear, (c) I don't understand tights any more and (d) basically I haven't worn a skirt for so long, I don't know the first thing about how to do it. I wonder if I should try, though. Any tips?

Suzette, Leeds

UNCLE ONY: I must say that the sight of a shapely calf and well-turned ankle is one to lighten the heart, so I'm delighted to hear you have decided to take the plunge! My thoughts on skirts are these: short is good; with high heels is good; those thicky blacky tights can be nice but no tights in summer is good; remember to shave your legs.

AUNTIE AG: What a rotten bunch of workmates you do have. Don't let them brow-beat you, even in fun; ignore them. If you have a wonderful figure for trousers, rejoice in it, angel, many of us wish we were so lucky.

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