Westminster's new agony aunt is here to help

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The Independent Online

The one thing that Westminster has needed all these years is someone to whom politicians could turn to... a shoulder to cry on... a source of common sense advice... and now at last they have one! It's Aunt Agatha, Westminster's very own agony aunt. And a bumper bundle of emotional and personal problems she has to kick off with, too! Today she deals with dilemmas she has received in the last seven days...


Dear Clare,

Relax, relax. In a year's time you will look back and say to yourself: why on earth did I get so worked up over this man Tony? Right now, you are so close to it that you think it is the most important thing in the world to get your revenge on his spurning of you, but revenge is never worth it. It only hurts the revenger. Meanwhile, ask yourself two questions: 1) Is he really worth it? (Reading between the lines, I get the feeling that this Tony is a man of fleeting affections, and a bit of a chancer!) 2) Is it worth indulging in attention-seeking behaviour if you're not looking your best? And let's face it, revenge-seeking never makes you look at your best, does it, Clare? Be honest.

Dear Gordon,

You're not the only one. I get many letters from people who have become frightened by the amount they have borrowed to fund future projects. You just have to believe in yourself.


Dear David,

There is a technical word for your belief that lots of people are coming from overseas to take your job and your money. It is called paranoia. There is also a cure for this. It is called getting out and about a bit more.


Dear Ann,

It seems very unfair to you that you are being victimised for reporting a joke about cockle-pickers, but I am not sure that that is what this is really about. What you have to remember, Ann, is you tell jokes at your own peril. There are three kinds of women who make men very uneasy: women who know about sport, women who can mend cars, and women who tell jokes. It's because we are invading their territory. This may seem a little old-fashioned, Ann, but my advice is to be a bit more like a woman, a bit less like a man. You'll be amazed how quickly people's attitudes will change, and all this will be forgotten.


Dear Tony,

Yes, we all imagine from time to time that our colleagues don't like us. In this case, it sounds as if your fellow managers Jacques and Gerhard were firm friends before you came along, and it may be that each of them thinks your overtures are a threat to this bond, and you have designs on the other one's friendship. To put it crudely, they don't want you in their gang. I think the solution may lie in these new colleagues from Eastern Europe you mention fleetingly. It sounds as if they will be needing friendship and guidance from someone already in the group. Why not you? Why not make a big effort to be friends with them? Jacques and Gerhard may take more notice of you if you have your own gang, so to speak!


Dear Geoff,

Relax, relax. Don't be paranoid. You say for months that everyone at work has predicted you will lose your job. People are whispering behind your back that you are for the push. But you haven't been fired, have you? They were wrong, weren't they? So relax! Live a little! On the other hand, of course, it never hurts to have an alternative job lined up, just in case...


Dear Rev Ian,

I have read your letter several times, and have reluctantly come to the conclusion either that it is a leg-pull or that you are a nutter.