Counselling: Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony

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MY FATE IS MY FORTUNE

I've met a man I like, but of a very different background to mine - he's London Irish Catholic and I'm Jewish and rather well-off. Since we started living together, he's stopped working, is drinking a lot, and suggests we sell my shares for living expenses. He's less fun in bed than he was, but jealous if I go out with other people - he's tried to put me off a potential rival by saying he's a drug dealer who's just after my money. But I fancy this other guy and he's more fun than my partner in his current mood.

PL, London W1

UNCLE ONY: A kept man is like a bird in a gilded cage. Men like - and indeed need - to be breadwinners. They equate money with power, and by taking on the responsibility for the financial side of the relationship, you have made this unfortunate man feel emasculated and useless. If you were to pursue this other potential relationship, you would find exactly the same situation. You must mend things by putting your finances back on an equal footing and insisting that all bills are split equally. This is the only way to relinquish the unequal balance of power that is driving a wedge between you.

AUNTIE AG: Frankly, darling, given the choice between a drunken layabout and a drug dealer, the answer is crystal clear: neither of them. Why ever would you want to enter into anything long-term with this type of chap? A fling is quite another matter, of course; but for something more permanent, you should be looking out for some nice Porsche-driving banker who can advise you on your investments, angel, not someone who simply wants to spend your money.

THE BROWNED-OFF VERSION

Please help me - I don't know what to do. I hate the school where I work. All the boys there hate me, and have started throwing things at me and calling me names. I don't get on with any of the teachers, apart from one whom I dream about every night. My life is a nightmare; I dread the alarm going off each morning. Unfortunately this is my only source of income.

Sarah, Wandsworth

UNCLE ONY: It sounds to me as though you are in need of an urgent boost to your self-esteem and confidence; you must be able to keep order if you are to get through to the young minds that you have the profound responsibility of forming. A teacher who cannot keep control cannot teach. Find an older colleague who can give you help and encouragement (but most definitely not the one who you are dreaming about. I have said many times that office affairs usually end in tears; I'm sure I don't have to go through all the reasons why yet again).

AUNTIE AG: Oh, darling, do jack in this rotten job and find yourself a post in a nice girls' school. At least there they are unlikely to throw things (and if they do, they'll be closer to your own size when you administer punishment. A swift pinch using the knuckles rather than the fingertips is surprisingly painful and leaves no mark whatsoever).

ON QUEER STREET?

My boyfriend thinks he might be gay, but isn't sure. His foreplay is brilliant, he's great company, sympathetic and understanding, but oddly unphysical and emotionally cold when we're not actually in bed. Also he finds normal intercourse difficult. My friends say "He's really nice and understanding? Of course he's gay". Should I persevere and hope sex will get better, or advise him to find out in practice if he's gay or not?

Chloe, Eastbourne

UNCLE ONY: There are many, many variations contained within the great rainbow of human sexuality. Have you considered that he might be bisexual? What a wonderful opportunity for you to embark together on a voyage of sexual discovery, paddling the frail barque of your relationship through waters sometimes tempestuous and stormy, sometimes tranquil and lily-strewn, sometimes following the tide, sometimes pulling against it...

AUNTIE AG: Oh, really, Ony, that's quite enough, we are all starting to feel seasick. I always think it's far more dignified to simply admit it when you haven't a clue, rather than spouting sub-fourth-form free verse. Chloe, darling, I can't possibly tell whether your boyfriend is gay or not - well, if the two of you aren't sure, I can hardly diagnose by post. However, I think the main issue is not whether he fancies men or women or both or neither, but whether he fancies you. Frankly, it's hard to tell from your letter, angel, as he miraculously combines sympathy, understanding and emotional chilliness. But if he's a cold fish out of bed and reluctant between the sheets, it doesn't sound like good news, I'm afraid, however great company he may be otherwise. I'd let him go his own way, and go yours.

A CRIME AGAINST THE STEAK

Since those two wretched pigs escaped from the abbatoir, my two children, aged nine and 12, have steadfastly refused to eat pork. Now they inform me that they intend to boycott other meats as well. It is driving me up the wall. What can I do to make them see reason?

Richard, Salford

UNCLE ONY: Instead of trying to persuade them against their consciences, Richard, you should feel very proud that you have brought up two kind- hearted, gentle-souled little human beings whose hearts are bigger than their stomachs.

AUNTIE AG: Just make sure they get their vitamins, darling, and think of all the money you're saving. After a year or so of fish fingers instead of steak, you'll have saved enough to send them away to boarding school.

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