The problem is, I'm an agony aunt

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The Independent Online
Ordinary people can turn to agony aunts for help with their emotional problems, but who can agony aunts turn to?

To Auntie Auntie, that's who - the only agony aunt who deals only with agony aunts' problems! And she's back again today with more curious posers from her mailbag.

Take it away, Auntie! Dear Auntie, I run a small provincial agony column for a weekly newspaper in one of the Home Counties, which I'll call Kent, and not long ago I got a beautifully sad letter from a young man who was having trouble with his parents.

There was something so appealing about this letter that I actually arranged to meet him, which I shouldn't really have done, I know, and the young man was equally appealing in the flesh, and one thing led to another, and now I am having an affair with him, which is terrible as I am a married woman, but it's stronger than me, I can't bring myself to break it off, oh, what shall I do?

Auntie Auntie writes: This is pathetic. Has nobody got any more interesting problem than this?

Dear Auntie, Recently, I received two letters with all-too-familiar tales of woe to tell. One was from a mother who had discovered her son was gay and didn't know how to come to terms with it. The other was from a wife who had discovered that her husbandwas having an affair with his secretary; when confronted with it, he had admitted everything and promised to give it up, but she has now found out that the affair is still very much ongoing despite his promises.

Well, you know the form - I wrote to the mother of the gay son saying that whatever her personal feelings she must go on loving him and I told the wife that she must be hard but firm, and kick the husband out. Routine stuff. Not quite, though. Somehow the answers got mixed up by my hopeless secretary and so I have instructed the mother to be hard and firm, and kick her gay son out, and implored the distressed wife to go on loving her arrant husband despite his deviant nature. Should I write again admitt ing my mistake?

Auntie Auntie writes: Of course not. Nobody takes our advice anyway. It will make no difference.

Dear Auntie, To help me with my very successful agony column, I have a devoted secretary who is not only young and beautiful, but amazingly efficient and great fun. I have now discovered, to my horror and fury, that she is having an affair with my husband. I have heard of husbands having affairs with their own secretary, but having one with their wife's ... ?! I am utterly distraught, as you can imagine. What should I do?

Auntie Auntie writes: Fire him. You can always get another husband, but perfect secretaries are like gold dust.

Dear Auntie, I have a terrible secret which I have never been able to share. I write a regular and very popular column for a daily paper under a woman's name; let's say it's Delia Wainwright, it's not actually Delia Wainwright, but let's say it is. Anyway, the snag is that I am a man. I mean, this isn't a big snag, millions of men go through life every day being men and don't think twice about it (some would say that that's what the trouble with men is!) but not many of them work as agony aunts under the name of Delia Wainwright.

In this guise I have to think like a woman several hours a day and sometimes I feel more like a woman than a man. Also, I often get free gifts from companies keen to push their products, mostly female toiletries, often of an intimate nature, but also frocks and dresses and things, which of course I do nothing with but have to hide in a cupboard at home.

I suppose the companies think I am a woman not just because of my name (Delia Wainwright) but because of the photo at the top of my column, which is of a middle-aged woman, not of me - I am a man, as you may remember me mentioning.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got a letter from my wife the other day, writing not to me but to Delia Wainwright asking for advice. She says she is married to a man who goes out to work every day but never tells her where he is going (this is true, I have never dared own up to my job or my alias) and she thinks he is a transvestite or a cross-dresser or even gay because she has found lots of female clothes hidden around the house.

Should I write back to her as Delia, telling her to be more understanding, or should I own up to everything and hope she will see the funny side?

Auntie Auntie writes: Nice one! I've never come across this twist before. Do you mind if I use it in the plot of a novel I'm writing at the moment?

Auntie Auntie will be back again soon.