Trying to give up smoking? Wife acting strangely (more so than usual)? And what about this London property boom? Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony will put you straight
I work in an OK job in the Docklands area of London. I am an expat and I don't know whether I'll be in this country for ever. So far, I've been living in a houseshare, but I feel that I want my own place. London's recent property hysteria has scared me enormously: should I join the race and invest my hard-earned cash in some east London two-bed flat or keep on renting? Somehow all that silly des-res hype really puts me off. I firmly believe that this sham was created by a clandestine gang of clever developers.

Heike, via e-mail

Aunty Ag: If your only motive is making money, then the time to join in a property boom, unless you are a millionaire developer with pots and pots of money and insider knowledge of the market, is before things really get under way. Now that the property market is all of a ferment, you could end up paying (extremely) silly money for a flat that, from the sounds of it, you probably don't really want. Property is such a big commitment - if you are an amateur dabbler whose main concern is a roof over your head, you should buy only a piece of it that you love and want to live in.

Uncle Ony: I'm afraid I don't have much patience with the kind of dilemma that simply boils down to "How shall I spend my money?" If you can afford to buy a two-bedroom flat in London at all, then you are considerably better off than the vast majority of the population of this country. Next, please.

I've been trying to stop smoking and I'm finding it really hard after 10 years of cigarettes. My wife also smokes and this makes things about a hundred times worse: the temptation to smoke is always there at home. The problem is that she refuses point blank to give up or even not to smoke in front of me. How can I get her to be more supportive?

Frank, Yeovil

Aunty Ag: Just because you are giving up smoking does not mean that you will never again be exposed to other people doing it. Your family, colleagues, friends and total strangers at the next table in the pub are not going to behave with consideration and create a smoke-free exclusion zone round you. Your wife is being supportive in that she is helping you get used to temptation that will constantly surround you. Learn to live with it.

Uncle Ony: When I was a young boy I was occasionally tempted to copy the bad behaviour of the other children. My grandmother would say to me, "If so-and-so decides to stick his hand in the fire, are you going to do the same?" Your wife, of her own free will, is choosing to continue a habit that is both very dangerous to her health and extraordinarily unattractive. You, of your own free will, are choosing not to. Whatever your wife does, you can do what you want. You do not have to copy her. After all, if she sticks her hand in the fire, are you going to do the same?

I woke up the other morning to find my wife crawling around the bedroom with a slipper in her mouth. When I asked her what she was doing, she just yipped at me and panted. In the morning I found her in the kitchen gnawing on a bone from the Sunday joint. The next day, I was walking along the road with her and a cat ran across a little further up. Without a word she ran off after the cat, hurdling a wall to chase after it. In short, she is turning into a bitch. Could I claim a divorce for unreasonable behaviour, on the grounds that she persists in giving me dog biscuits and nothing else for breakfast?

Dave, via e-mail

Aunty Ag: You are obviously barking mad. If anyone has grounds for divorce, it's probably your wife. Goodness knows what is going on inside your head but I think a marital split is probably on the cards. Look on the bright side: you would actually probably be far better off with a dog in your life rather than a woman.

Uncle Ony: I can only assume that your letter is using such flowery imagery in an attempt to convey the impression of a fundamental incompatibility between you and your wife, but your misogynistic turns of phrase cause me grave concern. You need to work on your outdated attitude to women - and dogs! As many have pointed out before me, dumb animals behave better than human beings in many respects. They certainly do not abuse their partners in this way. Your letter is an insult both to ladies and lady canines.

Send your problems to Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony at the Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL or agony@independent.co.uk

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