Counselling: auntie ag and uncle ony

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MOONING NE'ER WON FAIR LADY

What can I do to attract the lady (we're both 50) of my dreams? She knows that I love her, and says that I'm "special", but she still spends her weekends in London, no doubt trying to hold on to her lost youth. (She stays on a houseboat with a blues musician!!) Meanwhile, I'm left waiting for the phone to ring and visiting garden centres. Should I move on, or bring my Fender to London and compete?

Leo, Warwickshire

UNCLE ONY: Lost youth is (sadly) a lost cause and pursuing it is a surefire way of looking rather silly. After all, 50 can never be 15 again. Though, incidentally, I must say there is nothing particularly youthful about being a blues musician. If his main attraction is his musical skills I don't think you need worry too much, especially if you play an instrument yourself. Attempting to compete on any such level, however, would be both undignified and unnecessary. Remain steady, loving, gentlemanly and calm, and wait for her to make her mind up.

AUNTIE AG: Don't rush off to London under any circumstances, darling. It always looks a bit desperate to pursue someone too closely. While she is off for these grim-sounding breaks (have you ever been on a houseboat, angel? They sound far more romantic than they really are - frightfully damp and with sanitary facilities that have to be seen to be believed), you must show your mettle by doing something far more fun and appealing. Jet off to Tuscany, go to Ronnie Scott's in Birmingham, hire a roadster and a cottage somewhere exquisite, anything at all that doesn't sound as limp and pathetic as waiting by the phone or hanging round the garden centre. It's wonderful to be loved, but less so if the person is too moony about it.

SEX AND THE SINGLE DAUGHTER

I'm 34, but I've had to move back in with my parents since I split with my boyfriend. They've been great, and it's given me the chance to save for a place of my own. But there's just one problem: the walls are so thin, and with astonishing frequency, I hear them having sex. It's really disgusting. I thought they'd stopped all that sort of thing.

Maria, Pinner

UNCLE ONY: It is very natural for the younger generation to be disturbed by the notion of their parents' sexual congress. This is in fact a power issue: as offspring mature and begin to take on adult roles, they are made uneasy by the elderly who don't fit in to their stereotyped notions of "old people". (You would probably feel similarly upset if they were to take up, say, water-skiing or abseiling.) A competent therapist would show you how to re-channel your feelings into a more positive mindset and encourage you to celebrate your parents' mature sexuality. With proper help you will be able to congratulate them to their faces without embarrassment!

AUNTIE AG: How frightful for you, angel. How absolutely and completely and utterly frightful. After all, at your age, you'll soon be renouncing all that disgusting sex nonsense yourself, and it really is a bit much to subject you to repulsive moans and squirmings through the wall. Flounce out immediately and find alternative lodgings. So you'll have to pay: I'm sure it will be worth it.

THE SCALES OF JUSTICE

I am trying to lose weight, but without going on any kind of weird crash diet. I have adapted my daily eating habits to include lots of vegetables and carbohydrates, and have cut down on fats and sugars. In short, I'm doing all the right things, as recommended by doctors, for Sensible Reduction. It's been about five weeks now, and the regime is working, albeit very slowly - I'm dropping at the rate of only about a pound a week. So you can imagine my distress when I went to stay with a friend, got on to her scales and found that they said I was five pounds heavier than I thought: all my efforts were negated. When I got home, in a state of some distress, I weighed myself and found my own scales still said what they'd said before I left. Then last week I went to my parents' and their scales said I was three pounds heavier than I expected as well! What if one of these other pairs of scales is right? I am so miserable that I have barely held back from a huge binge: I mean, what's the point of it all?

Hugely depressed, London SW11

UNCLE ONY: For heaven's sake. People are starving in the world and you are fussing about five pounds here and five pounds there. Just pull yourself together and don't be so silly and selfish.

AUNTIE AG: Oh, please don't despair, angel, when you are doing so well. Scales that don't agree with each other are very upsetting, but remember five pounds off is five pounds off, wherever you start from! There is only one answer and it is this. You must be more faithful to your home scales than to anything else in your life, even your husband - if you have one. Never flirt with another weighing machine. Always weigh in the same place at the same time of day, and you will get a true picture of how much you are melting away, which is far more important (and encouraging) than the actual amount you weigh. (Avoid in particular those horrendous electronic scales to be found in public places; first of all they sneakily add on a few pounds and secondly they offer to tell you your "ideal weight", and it is always ludicrously and obviously meant for a supermodel on a diet.) Courage, darling, you are doing wonderfully well! And remember, with this kind of slowly-slowly diet, the odd binge not only doesn't ruin everything, it doesn't even show up. Just don't do it too often.

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