Miles Kington: Confused? In need of advice? You soon will be...

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Today marks the welcome return of "Opposite Options", our revolutionary advice service. The idea is very simple. You have a problem on which you need advice. We provide two solutions to your dilemma, each completely contradictory to the other. You choose the one which suits you best, and which you were probably going to adopt anyway.

The last time we had this advice column, 50 per cent of you thought it was great and 50 per cent thought it was a waste of time, which shows that we got it 100 per cent right. But you'll get the idea as we go along.

Should I take my money out of Northern Rock?

A. Yes. Any mortgage society which sounds as if it is named after a branch of Mancunian pop music should be avoided like the plague.

B. No. Northern Rock shares have gone plunging down. They will come back up again. Buy them now. You do realise, don't you, that all those people queuing to get their cash out of Northern Rock are going right out and buying Northern Rock shares with it?

Which is the correct usage, "as if" or "like"? I am asking this because in your previous answer you say, "which sounds as if it is named after a branch of Mancunian pop music". But most people today would find that phrasing somewhat old-fashioned and would prefer to say, "Which sounds like it's named after..." Which one is best?



A. Which one is better, do you mean? It's always worth sticking up for standards, you know. An agreed set of rules will always get you out of trouble. Go for good old "as if"!

B. Oh, for heaven's sake! More time and energy is wasted over the petty battles between "best" and "better", "less" and "fewer", "uninterested" and "disinterested" than anything in the world. Go with the flow of language. Say "like". "Like" is cool.

When you say, "More time and energy is wasted over the petty battles", shouldn't that be "More time and energy are wasted"?

A. Spot on.

B. Piss off.

Was Anita Roddick, in the words of Sellars and Yeatman, "a good thing"?

A. Yes. She believed that testing cosmetics on sentient animals was cruel, so she instituted a policy of testing products only on cucumbers and mangoes, and other things that felt no pain. She also admitted that all cosmetics were a complete waste of time, except for moisturisers. The Body Shop's guiding principle was that if women are to persist in their foolish delusion about cosmetics and make-up, they might at least do it cheaply and cheerfully, as opposed to all the other cosmetic firms which do it expensively, solemnly, sanctimoniously and cheerlessly. She was much criticised for her sale of the Body Shop to L'Oreal, but it was really in the nature of an experiment; she wanted to see how much money L'Oreal could cough up before it felt real pain and suffering.

B. Who are Sellars and Yeatman?

I heard a government minister say the other day that the 2012 Olympic Games were not just for London – they were for everyone in Britain. Is there any truth in this at all?

A. Yes. Having the Olympic Games is at least a guarantee against being invaded. It's a curious thing, but no city or country which holds the Olympic Games is ever invaded for at least 10 years afterwards. The nearest you get to it is Paris having the Games in 1904, and France being invaded in 1914 – and even then, Paris was not taken. It is much more likely that a country which holds the Games will invade somewhere afterwards. Berlin had them in 1936, after all. And the city that was due to hold the Olympic Games in 1940? Tokyo! It will be interesting to see what Beijing and the Chinese get up to after 2008...

B. No. London will emerge from the London Olympics looking like a city that has just had a nervous breakdown. The rest of the country will look like a country that has just enjoyed watching London having a nervous breakdown.

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