Counselling Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony

NO TEA PARTY

I have a fairly junior position in a large office and because of that I quite often offer to go to the canteen and get a round of tea. I don't mind going to fetch the tea, but while it's only 12p a cup, but if I have to get half a dozen or so that mounts up. All these people I get tea for are earning loads more than me but they never give me their 12ps and if it's an early morning round they sometimes ask me to get some toast or a croissant and if it's afternoon they might want muffins or biscuits. I know it sounds petty but I reckon it's costing me more than a fiver a week and it doesn't seem fair. The last straw was a bacon sandwich last week; it was pounds 1.20 all on its own.

Elaine, London SW1

UNCLE ONY: It most certainly is not fair; in fact it is blatant exploitation by those in a position of power of the young and vulnerable. Speak to your immediate boss, and ask him or her to have a discreet but sharp word with these greedy and insensitive colleagues of yours. With a bit of luck their consciences will prick them and they will stump up a few back payments.

AUNTIE AG: Indeed it isn't fair, darling, you shouldn't have to subsidise the fat-cats' tea breaks. But I would approach things obliquely; rather than making a big fuss, why don't you acquire a large tin, label it "Tea Kitty" in very large letters and place it prominently on your desk, with a couple of pound coins and some silver in it. It's more than likely that your colleagues are thoughtless rather than outright mean and simply haven't realised how much this is mounting up and that it is coming out of your personal funds; once the penny drops, so to speak, they will all feel they have to chuck in a pound every so often. I wouldn't be surprised if you found you were making a small but healthy profit after the first few weeks, angel.

GUEST CONTROL

I am a middle-aged lady of independent means and for one reason and another have decided recently to make a fresh start in life. I moved a few months ago to a very pretty new town where I live alone - in a way this was a mistake, because I immediately missed old friends and felt lonely. Because of this, when one of my neighbours made friendly overtures I accepted them; it was a bad mistake, because now she drops in on me every day and seems to think I want to spend all my time with her. I don't want to be rude to her; how can I gently disengage her?

Barbara, Salisbury

UNCLE ONY: So, Barbara, while your own loneliness is something we are to sympathise with, this lady, who must be as lonely as you, is not to be pitied. Other people have feelings as well as oneself, you know: the notion of "gently disengaging" is shameful, just because you have decided she is no longer useful. Don't be so selfish; this lady evidently relies on your friendship.

AUNTIE AG: One old trick, darling, not coined by me but worth repeating, is to put your coat on just before you answer the door. If it's someone you are delighted to see, you then say "Delighted to see you! I've just got in, let me take my coat off" and if it's someone you aren't delighted to see you can be terribly sorry but just off out. This, however, is a very short-term solution to the problem of unwanted guests and clingy friends. In the long run, why don't you get a job? I know you don't need the money, angel, but it would kill two birds with one stone: get you out and meeting people and also make you less available to your over-enthusiastic neighbour. Join something voluntary if the cash really doesn't count at all, angel. Or donate it to charity. Or send it in here, addressed to moi.

WINDOWS OF THE SOUL

We love our Edwardian terraced house but it is starting to look a bit shabby and we are beginning to get it done up. We have to get some sash windows replaced, and got several moderate quotes from local craftsmen. Then I rang the salesman for a company that makes the Rolls-Royce of windows, lovingly handcrafted from aged timber, perfectly hung and balanced, guaranteed for the next 2,000,000 years etc etc. His quote is six times as much as the others, but now I've seen the Rolls-Royce I don't want to settle for the Ford Escort, even though we absolutely can't afford it. I am disproportionately sad and discontented: after all I bloody deserve the best.

Helena, Beaconsfield

UNCLE ONY: Living beyond one's means is a great evil of the age in which we live. There is no point in having a fantastic set of windows and then not being able to pay the mortgage. Another great evil is this constant lust for ever-escalating acquisition. Some people would be glad to have any windows at all, let alone this Rolls Royce nonsense.

AUNTIE AG: Oh, darling, what a shame you ever got this salesman in: I bet if you hadn't you'd have been quite happy with your local chappies. But think about it. If you spend loads more than you can afford on windows fit for a palace, what about everything else you plan to do? You'll be sitting for the next however-many-years till you can pay them off, in a shabby house with fantastic windows - they will be like jewels in a plastic setting. Fix your mind on all the other projects and don't go calling in anyone else too exorbitant or you'll find yourself perennially sad and discontented and everyone round you will get depressed, angel.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

    £600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star