Working Life: What's your problem?

INDISPENSABLE ADVICE FROM REAL LIFE'S AGONY AUNT AND UNCLE

ROAD RAGE

My husband and I have recently acquired a car, which is great - getting the train everywhere was getting to be such a drag. The problem is the car radio. When we are out and about, I like listening to inspiring rock 'n' roll stuff, whereas he likes classical stations. We spend every journey arguing ferociously about whether we should tune into Virgin or Classic FM. How can we resolve this?

Sara, London SW19

He says: I am sorry to hear that you have forsaken public transport for a car, filthy, polluting and anti-social machines that they are. Trains may be a little less convenient but sometimes you have to put the planet above your own petty personal considerations! As for the radio situation: marriage is all about give and take. If you can make your shared car-radio listening into a bone of contention I shudder to think what will happen if and when a really serious area of conflict comes up. Perhaps you should consider couples counselling now, rather than waiting for a crisis. In the short term I suggest that you compromise by allowing whoever is actually behind the wheel to choose the music. This will also encourage you to share out the driving equally.

She says: Tune the radio to your required station and snap off the tuner. Or, if it's a dial, fix it in position with Superglue. Or, when you next take your car into the garage, get them to fiddle with the seatbelt inertia in your husband's seat so that it's supersensitive. It will take about 15 minutes to get the seatbelt on, by pulling it out very gently and slowly, but once it is on it will be rather like a straitjacket, holding him firmly (and safely) in his seat but preventing him reaching out to fiddle with the radio. Or make your husband travel in the back.

BOLD AS BRAS

Just before Christmas I took my girlfriend shopping to a market in London where she bought three bras, size 38DD. Alas, tried on over the holiday they proved too small. Analysis showed that they were in fact mislabelled and were paltry 36Cs. My girlfriend didn't get a receipt, but I gallantly said I'd get them changed or get a refund. I now have them in my bag, but I've discovered I'm too shy to go back to the stall and argue cup sizes and suchlike. My girlfriend doesn't have time to go back to the market to sort this out for herself till next month. What on earth do I do with these bras in the meantime? Are there other uses for large bras?

RS, via e-mail

He says: Why are you too shy to take these items back and demand your consumer rights? A brassiere is a garment like any other. I would diagnose an unfortunately macho failure to keep in touch with the feminine side of your nature, resulting in a childishly giggly and immature attitude to female underwear. You have offered to take care of this situation and it is now your responsibility. When you return to the market, I suggest that beforehand you prepare psychologically with some role-play, imagining how you would deal with the situation were you returning a gender-neutral type of clothing: perhaps a sweater or a pair of jeans. Ask a male friend to help you by taking the part of the stallholder, then take him along for moral and psychological support. You can do it!

She says: Hang them in the garden for birds to nest in. Fill them with ice cream mixture and freeze them, to make an attractively shaped ice cream bombe dessert. Suspend them from a securely fixed hook outside and plant a creative and charming hanging-basket-type flower display. Weave them together to make a cosy baby-carrying sling. Stretch them across the stairs to trip up burglars. Take up a new career as a pantomime dame. Offer them to homeless people to shelter in. Or put them back in their bag and pop them into a handy drawer at home until your (I suspect long- suffering) girlfriend has a moment to take them back. On a practical note: I reiterate my advice from an earlier issue that it is impossible to buy bras with confidence if you do not try them on before purchasing. If everyone actually took note of my excellent hints and tips the world would run far more smoothly.

MAD HAIR DAY

I have recently had a rather drastic change of hairstyle, from rather long to rather short with a colour rinse on top. I am very unsure about my new look and feel quite alarmed every time I look in the mirror, but everyone else says they think it's great. Should I believe them?

Chloe, via e-mail

He says: It is always sad to encounter yet another person (and there are many) whose self-worth depends on some arbitrary notion of "good looks". So often women place far too great an emphasis on haircuts and such, and very little on personality. Never mind your hair, cultivate yourself as a person! After all, looks don't last forever.

She says: No, I'm afraid you shouldn't believe them. People will always enthusiastically say they like your new haircut, whatever it's like. It's a kneejerk reaction, and the least positive response you will get from anyone is a tactful silence. (This does not include your mother, who will always insult whatever cut you have and exhort you to get a nice perm.) Follow your own instincts - if every time you look in the mirror you feel miserable because you think you have a dead rat on your head, it won't enhance you in any way whatsoever. After all, beauty is often as much a function of confidence as anything else.

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