Thorn in my side

I have recently moved into a new flat with nice big communal gardens. The problem is that Bert the gardener, who looks after them, is madly protective of his lawns and rose bushes. He is always pottering around out there, and we are only allowed to sit out by prior engagement, and not pick the flowers under any circumstances.

Rowena, York

Uncle Ony: Hi, I'm back! Despite the ten-week intensive course at the Center for Interpersonal Vision Realignment in Syracuse, USA, I can only say that most of the Conservatives I accompanied seem to be beyond help. I, however, am refreshed, revitalised and feel better than ever. Bert's insistence on immaculate lawns is symptomatic of a fear of losing control, while his fear of rose-snipping is evidently a suppressed terror of castration. A few weeks of intensive psycho-sexual counselling should transfer this unfortunate garden fixation to his wife, where it belongs.

Auntie Ag: Why don't you club together and get him an allotment, angel? Preferably a jolly big, totally gone-to-seed one that will need a lot of work. A lovely new project to concentrate on will loosen his grip on your gardens and the death-penalty on flower-picking will be lifted. Or, at the very least, darling, you'll be able to lounge on the lawn while he's out mulching and hoeing, or doing whatever one does to allotments.

the girl can't help it

I broke up with my boyfriend of two years about three years ago and now I can't stop sleeping around. I thought this would wear off but it's got to the stage where I think "Oh, another one won't hurt", like you'd think of a packet of biscuits. I have slept with most of the men I work with, and most of the men I socialise with and most of their friends. How can I break this dreadful habit?

Phillipa, Dorset

Uncle Ony: Your self-esteem plummeted over your unsuccessful relationship and since then you have been desperately trying to prove you are attractive and loveable. A caring therapist could break this vicious circle with one-to-one sessions, and I could certainly offer you a special rate.

Auntie Ag: Much as I hate to agree with Ony on anything, I do think that you are not valuing yourself sufficiently, darling. This sexual marathon is definitely not making you happy. Can't any of your girlfriends help you? Take one along wherever you go; there's nothing to calm one's wilder behaviour like a friendly but censorious presence in the room. (And even if Ony offers counselling for free, don't go.)

sweet talkin' woman

I cannot stop eating chocolate, especially when I have a deadline at work. Not only is this costing me money, it's making me fat. I am forced to go through my colleagues' desks looking for the stuff when I work late and the shops have shut.

Emily, Frome

Uncle Ony: Chocolate, Emma, in this context, is not chocolate. It is a substitute affection symbol. You have an aching void in your psyche that you are seeking to fill. I can empathise, for I once had a similar problem with spaghetti hoops. Do you by chance also have a very unsatisfactory sex life? Start therapy, and your obsession with chocolate will transfer to your therapist, which at least won't make you fat. You can then work together on finding a more appropriate object for your affections.

Auntie Ag: Oh really, angel, it is hardly a Class A drug habit. Change your chocolate of choice to fresh-cream Belgian truffles, because it is physically impossible to eat more than two at a time and you will soon be looking down your nose at your colleague's down-market hoards of nasty Twix and Mars.

space oddity

I have been with my boyfriend for over a year, but I still haven't met any of his family. I have worn myself to a frazzle helping him, cooking for him and spending all my money on him. Having contributed a third towards the cost of "our" cottage, I still do not have a key and spend some nights sleeping on the floor because he takes over the single bed and won't let me bring my double. He hasn't consulted me about any of the decorating and intends to make the kitchen dark and poky. The last straw was when he asked me to help build a dry- stone wall outside. When I arrived, suitably attired and ready to break my fingernails, he had imported a neighbour's children and was happily involving them in the task. I started to help but they took my spade away and I was forced to shovel with my bare hands.

Jan, Herefordshire

Uncle Ony: Your boyfriend obviously has an over-developed, indeed Neanderthal, sense of territory - mentally he is defending his cave and family against interlopers: rival tribes, sabre-toothed tigers and so on. He evidently feels very threatened by any invasion. Stay out of his space as far as possible (perhaps you could sleep in the garage, if you have one). Regression therapy would probably sort things out in the long term.

Auntie Ag: Darling, you really can't let this man treat you like some kind of slave or dog. Sleeping on the floor, indeed! (As for the garage: don't even bloody consider it.) You say you have a double bed somewhere that he won't let you bring. Move into it, angel, wherever it is. And stay put. If he doesn't come grovelling, with lovely swatches for you to choose from and a darling new design for the kitchen, get a good solicitor and make sure that you get back every penny you've put into that blasted cottage.

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