Following several snubs I have decided to have no further contact with a former friend. I am furious with myself for denying that I was upset the last time I spoke to her on the phone. (She said she'd call me back, but didn't.) We live about half a mile apart and it is almost inevitable that we meet in the street at some time. I feel I've acted like a wimp so far. I don't want to be downright rude or completely ignore her; neither do I want to act as if nothing has happened. What do you advise?

Christine, Scotland

Aunty Ag: Every time you meet her or speak to her, start giggling madly, add a few theatrical splutters and roll your eyes alarmingly. This will be very disconcerting for her, and she will soon start to avoid you of her own accord.

Uncle Ony: You feel that this friend has slighted you and what you want is not to achieve closure but to take revenge in some way. Mulling over the circumstances in which you fell out will not help you to heal; it will simply keep your resentment alive. There is nothing wrong with "acting like a wimp" if by that you mean avoiding upsetting scenes. If you really want to break off contact with this woman, do it with dignity. When you meet her in the street, smile and nod, maybe exchange a brief but cool greeting and keep walking, as though she were simply an acquaintance - be polite but firm and she will soon realise you no longer wish to remain in touch.

I am a keen traveller who loves going far afield but my husband is not; his ideal holiday is a fortnight in Bournemouth. This year, after much pleading on my part, we are going camping in the South of France, but my husband has laid in the most ridiculous amount of gear, including a water purifier (terrified of foreign water), enormous amounts of medicines of all kinds (terrified of foreign bugs), a very complicated concealed money belt (terrified of foreign thieves) and a case of baked beans (terrified of foreign food). This is maddening and surely way over the top for the Dordogne, which I have heard is really quite civilised. How can I snap him out of this ludicrous xenophobia?

Margaret, via e-mail

Aunty Ag: Cancel the South of France and rebook for Ecuador or Kerala or Venezuela. If he is already in such a state he can hardly get any worse and it seems a shame to waste all that lovely equipment.

Uncle Ony: It seems remarkably insensitive of you to force your husband to spend his precious leisure time in a manner that is so evidently abhorrent to him. I would suggest that in future you consider holidaying separately for at least part of the time and then spending some time together in an English resort that your husband might appreciate. I would also question your motives for globetrotting to faraway places. "Travelling" has a certain snob value attached to it that mere "holidaying" can never achieve; are you sure you don't just want an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous journey so you can boast about it afterwards? Your husband's desire to stay home is far more ecologically sound than your own wish to trample all over the farthest-flung corners of the globe. If everybody stayed quietly in Eastbourne the world would be a better place.

I am having a summer party soon and am worried that my husband will insist on doing a barbecue. It always takes forever to get going, and by the time the first charred sausage is ready the starving guests are already pissed and staggering about. Last year several threw up in my rose bed. What can I do?

Selina, via e-mail

Aunty Ag: It all sounds like jolly good fun, and if you can't beat them, join them. Throwing up in the rose bed isn't half as bad as doing it all over the bathroom, and at least with a barbecue there's hardly any washing up, excellent news if you have a bit of a hangover later on.

Uncle Ony: Doing the barbecue is a male manifestation of hunter-gatherer instincts and I'm afraid your husband will be hard to dissuade. Solve the late food problem by providing a wide selection of nibbles and salads so your guests will not be left completely empty and do offer a variety of soft drinks as well as alcohol. (And possibly place some buckets at strategic points.)

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

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