Deborah Ross: Relieve the sporting tension with Auntie Sylvia

If You Ask Me: I'm not saying Auntie Sylvia won't get on your nerves a little, with her gasps and yelps
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The Independent Online

If you ask me, post-Wimbledon and pre-Olympics, I would like to offer the services of my Auntie Sylvia to all of those who feel compelled to watch competitive sport but cannot endure the uncertainties.

My Auntie Sylvia will not, I think you'll find, prove much trouble. She has lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War and will, for example, take the least comfortable chair in front of the television while claiming, heroically, "I'm fine". Yet she will prove of significant help to anyone who found, for instance, watching the Murray versus Federer match an absolute ordeal and who, as a sports spectator, generally over-invests emotionally in the person or team they wish to win.

How will Auntie Sylvia be of service? OK, she will do this: she ratchets up the tension to such unbelievable levels within herself this somehow reduces the tension for everyone else. Auntie Sylvia was at it from the first point of the first game of the first set.

"Oh, God!" she said. Or: "I can't bear it!" But Auntie Sylvia, you say, it's still the first game of the first set. "He's going to lose, I know it!" she says. You don't have to suffer like this, you say. Go drive round and round Hanger Lane gyratory while shouting "Hey, no traffic" out the window instead. That could be fun. At this, she will look at you as if you are the mad one. "You have to watch." Why? "You just do!"

You may, at this point, wish to press Auntie Sylvia on her behaviour. How did you act, you might ask, when it came down to penalties for England in Euro 2012? "I did this," she will say, while looking sideways and covering her face with her hands.

I'm not saying Auntie Sylvia won't get on your nerves a little, with her gasps and yelps and pleas of: "I can't look, I can't look, tell me what's happening!" Your father, her brother, may even say: "Oh, for heaven's sake, Sylvia!" But as no one can feel it as keenly as her – it isn't humanly possible, research has shown – your own nerves will cease jangling so. She will suck all the stress out of you. Plus, if you pay a little extra, she will even offer to bite your nails but will not, I'm afraid, half-watch from a crouching position behind the sofa: "I'm 83!"

Anyway, if you are interested for, say, the Olympics, Auntie Sylvia is available for hire from At present, she is only available in one colour (pinkish) and one model. However, although you will have to pay p&p, we need not bother about drill holes, as "I'll be fine".