Altar ego

I have recently become engaged, which is very nice except that my sister-in-law (a divorcee, whom I have met briefly on two occasions) is insisting to my fiance that she should be a bridesmaid, even though she is 47. I just want to have my little nieces who are aged two and three. How can I put her off without offending her?

Annette, Bournemouth

UNCLE ONY: Your sister-in-law to be is clearly suffering from existential despair, struggling to come to terms with her own mortality, while confronting the wedding of her brother in the light of her own marital breakdown. It is interesting, Annette, that just at the point when you are about to join your life with that of another person, your thoughts are only of yourself. I would question whether you have sufficient maturity to take on a marriage and suggest a course of counselling as a matter of urgency.

AUNTLE AG: Oh, how completely absurd. Don't get involved, darling. Just firmly tell your fiance the answer is no, because you only want virgins and let him deal with it.


I have been going out with this fantastic girl for nine months. The trouble is she keeps going on about holidays all the time. Whenever we meet, she turns up with armfuls of brochures. She seems to think if we don't go on holiday together it isn't a proper relationship. But I have recently started up my own business and don't want to waste time or money by going away.

Stuart, Brighouse

UNCLE ONY: Your girlfriend, whom you dutifully describe as "fantastic", would better be described as "fantastical", selfishly demanding escape from practicality, refusing to accept the day-to-day reality of a normal, loving relationship. Such women can be extremely dangerous and expensive. Don't be bullied. Insist on rationality, economy and support.

AUNTLE AG: Oh, don't be such a bloody old bore, darling, or you might end up with all the time and money in the world and no lovely girlfriend. Men are useless at initiating holidays. It is the duty of every proper woman to bring them to pass, and one of the main reasons why men and women need each other in the modern world. Just say "Yes, my precious," leave it to her to organise everything and lie back and enjoy it.


My son has started tunnelling in the garden. This has come about because my boyfriend plans to make a patio over part of the lawn. He hasn't started work yet and by the time he does my son and his friends will have tunnelled under the entire area. I am terrified the tunnels will collapse on them and there will be a terrible tragedy but I cannot persuade my son to stop it. It is not as if the lawn is full of threatened wildlife as it is sprayed with pesticide and weedkiller every fortnight and one section of it is Astroturf.

Doreen, Cheshire

UNCLE ONY: Yes, this is clearly a sexual problem. It seems likely to me that your son is channelling his frustrated desires into tunnels. It is vital that you talk this through with him, perhaps with the help of a trained sex therapist.

AUNTLE AG: Oh don't worry, darling. It's only a craze and the boys are obviously just bored to tears and trying to be trendy. If you are worried about safety, I would bring the whole thing to a dramatic conclusion. Give an anonymous tip off to your local paper. Let them cover the story. Then, the following week, announce that the boys have triumphed and you and your boyfriend have capitulated. Leave the patio plan till later in the summer, by which time they will have lost interest and replaced it with an Alcopop problem.


My husband is a businessman and keen member of the Rotary Club and we move in a small, claustrophobic group of couples with big houses and jacuzzis and more money than sense. I don't mind because I adore my husband and we laugh about it together. Recently, however, one of his friends acquired a new wife who is incredibly grand and annoys everyone with her airs and graces. She has got herself on the hospital board, is always sounding off about talking about her university education and grand family. The thing is, she doesn't remember me, but we both went to the same school in Preston. Her mother was a cleaner, she left school at 15 and worked till she was 25 doing market research for a roll-on anti-perspirant company. I wouldn't mind if she wasn't so patronising towards me, and always trying to elbow me out. Should I tell my friends who she really is?

Carole, Leicester

UNCLE ONY: Before you remove the speck from your neighbour's eye, look to the log in your own. Is it healthy to be laughing at your friends in this way? It seems to me that you are indulging in inverted snobbery to compensate for your own lack of self-esteem. Try to rectify this and allow others to get on with living their lives as they see fit.

AUNTLE AG: Oh darling, how hilarious! Of course, you mustn't do anything about it yet. Wait till she pushes things just that little bit too far - then suddenly say, in front of everyone, that you think you remember her from school! Don't expand, just shamelessly exploit your power over her and watch her treat you with new-found respect and showers of little trinkets!