Deborah Ross: Never confuse a lifestyle coach with a National Express coach...

If you ask me...

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, along with all the other junk I receive through my letter box every day – pizza, curries, pet-sitters, builders, those Royal Mail "sorry you were out" cards even though I was in (just how "in" do you have to be?) – my attention was recently drawn to a leaflet advertising the services of a "lifestyle coach" now available in the area.

A lifestyle coach, to do what exactly? Do I even have "a lifestyle"? If I do, can't it just quietly tick over by itself? It requires "coaching"? I never knew! I never even suspected! I'm such a dolt! If I have a lifestyle, imagine how behind it must be by now! I've lately wondered what the noise behind me is whenever I go out. It's everyone laughing at my uncoached lifestyle behind my back! "Look at her," they're probably saying. "Pathetic!"

I was minded to call right there and then, but suddenly had a thought: how do I know this person is qualified and trustworthy? What about all the cowboy lifestyle people out there? Didn't I once see one on Watchdog who charged £200 an hour – £200 an hour! – but spent most of that time in the van "getting a spare part without which your lifestyle won't work, love"?

Well, I've since referred to Which?, which recommends the following:

* If you are approached by someone "doing lifestyle work in your area", don't even think about it unless you can see such work already completed for a satisfied customer.

* Make sure you give your business to someone who has premises rather than just a mobile number. If, for example, your lifestyle starts making banging sounds in the middle of the night, or springs a leak, you will need to know you can get hold of your lifestyle person whatever.

* Don't make a deal with a lifestyle coach over the doorstep or in your living room. Inevitably, you will be subjected to a very hard sell and then they'll point to the missing backs on all your remote controls and say: "Do you really want to carry on living like this?" and you'll burst into tears, and there they will have you.

* And, lastly, never confuse a lifestyle coach with a National Express coach, as you don't want to end up going to Brighton and back in a day when all you wanted to do was pay someone way over the odds to tell you a lot of stuff you'll never stick to. (You are who you are; get over it.)

I have now given you everything I know about lifestyles and the tending thereof, and if you wish for further information, go ask someone else for a change. My lifestyle is going for a nap.