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Answers to Agony - Solving your personal problems

Aunt Ali

1 June

Dear Aunt Ali,

I don't know what to do.

I am a bitter, envious little minx, who has no particular talent but nonetheless thinks that fame and success should be handed to me on a plate without making any effort. I saw that a local village archery-champion has been offered a contract to advertise sporting products after her recent success in a national tournament. I want to have a chance like this despite not being a sportswoman so I have started spreading nasty rumours about her to make myself feel better.

How can I become rich and famous without trying?

Please advise.

N. V. Uss

Don't worry, you will get through it.

The lady who won that tournament put in lots of work and tried very hard. She was lucky to get this chance to front Fem-Perk drinks' advertising campaign (Energy which makes the difference). Firstly, you should be happy that someone in the village is on the way to achieving something.

In respect of yourself - you have a choice. Either give up and become a breeding cow, whose ambitions are limited to getting the washing in before the weather turns, or get off your copious bottom and put in the hard yards. Ten thousand hours to become an expert. Remember that - ten thousand hours.

As you weren't concentrating at school, I'll help you with the maths: 3 hours every day for 10 years. In fact our archery champion has been doing at least that for the last decade.

And stop hiding behind anonymous letters.

Dear Aunt Ali,

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do. I have been editing a newspaper and my approach has annoyed a leading village activist. She is now making efforts to have me removed from the editorship despite all the work I have put in.

I am not sure of the support of my editorial staff and contibutors on whom I must rely to keep my position. I have not always been very nice to them and now am worried they may prefer someone else. That would be embarrassing as I am divorced and have nothing else to do with my time.

Please advise.

Edwina Letterman

Don't worry, you will get through it.

It seems important that you gain the support of your contributors. To do so it would seem obvious that you should take notice of what they think. Try asking them.

I don't think your position is yet lost. Both sides need to make their arguments clear and confirm what they will do to make the paper better.

One thing which might improve the quality of the paper is to take a more interventionist editorial approach to ensuring that news of local events is not just limited to one person's experiences. That might make me more favourable, for instance.

Dear Aunt Ali,

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do. Thank you for your advice last month. Acting on it - fearless of the inevitable decay and despair ahead - I've dared to entertain a romance.

So I met this guy in the local book shop. By (and perhaps even beyond) village standards, he's pretty incredible. He kayaks, he cooks, he's witty and he knows his wines. He buys me cherry-blossoms, quotes me Keats and we get on like wildfire. However, I'm still feeling rather hesitant. You see, he's just not very good looking. And I prefer handsome men.

Friends say I'm being shallow, but I don't care. They are not the ones that have to look at him across the dinner table every evening. And these are the same friends who've previously turned down guys for being too boring, too unromantic and too poor. Beauty may be fleeting, but wit, romance and wealth are just as temporary and changeable (in fact, from my experience, they vaporise altogether after the third date). At least with good looks, I'm guaranteed a good ten years.

Can I turn him down and still be a woman of substance?

Please advise.

Avangeline Ayres (again)

Don't worry, you will get through it. (and thanks for your further genuine query)

Ten years? If you notice what your partner looks like after ten months it'll be a miracle. Familiarity means you can overlook most things (handsome and ugly). You've got to decide - are you in the camp who goes on dates with jerky filmstars who don't show up just because they're pretty. Or are you someone who values value?

I'm guessing you're a bit of a looker yourself with all the heels and clutch-bags to match? But will you be in ten years? On your basis should he just string you along for a bit and then get a younger model?

Anyway why not try him out for a while? If it's not working out, you can always chuck it in and move to another continent in a few months. Maybe take the view of our highly respected pyschologist and set your hopes low on the basis that every man is likely to be a massive disappointment in the waiting.

Nonetheless, he sounds like he deserves a chance. If you don't want him - I'll have him. The bookshop you say...

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