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Answers to Agony - Solving your personal problems

Aunt Ali

1 May

Dear Aunt Ali,

I don't know what to do. My favourite poet is Sappho and sometimes people mistake me for a barrier keeping the sea out of Holland.

It turns out that there is another lady in the village who shares my interest in Susan Calman and Sandy Toksvig but who does not like to admit it publicly. How can I get closer to her? My intentions are pure.

Please advise.

Gorse Artywoman

Don't worry, you will get through it.

The object of your devotions needs time. Everyone knows she is inclined to prefer your inclinations and frankly it wouldn't be hard to guess given the way she dresses, so it won't be a big issue when she stops pretending and makes some more room in her closet.

All I can say is that you could gently tell her this. Perhaps show her this response. It'll be a relief to everyone when we don't have to tip-toe around it any more.

In the end, if all else fails. Just openly demonstrate your interest in the marketplace on a busy day and you won't leave her much option.

Tough love. It's better in the long run.

Dear Aunt Ali,

I don't know what to do.

I don't know what to do. I know this is a silly fear for a young person to have, but I'm really frightened of old age. I'm scared about the obvious losses - like good looks, good health and no longer being able to run up Snowdon, cram in three meatball pizzas, disco all night and still be up at 6am for work.

But there's something else I'm even more terrified about losing. Right now, I'm intrigued by absolutely anything and infatuated with everyone I meet. I can't walk to work without climbing a tree, collecting three pretty leaves and giggling stupidly about how marvellous the world is. Old people I know think they've seen it all and done it all, and just smile contentedly. I don't ever want to be content. I want to laugh and cry hysterically. Besides plotting an early end, what else can I do?

Please advise.

Avangeline Ayres

Don't worry, you will get through it.

Wow, thank you for your genuine enquiry.

Firstly I think you are underestimating older people. Many can run up Snowdon, virtually all don't actually want to eat meatball pizzas and most don't have to get up for work if they don't want to. They also have the advantages of cars and houses which we cannot possibly afford. [According to some people they are also having more fun that you young people do- Ed.]

Also what makes you think you know what it's like to be old? When you are old you will have a much better idea what the real problems with it are and will be able to focus your worrying accordingly. 'til then you are probably guessing wrong. For the moment why not leave the old people to worry about old age and worry about yourself instead.

Which brings me to the exuberance of your outlook. If you have to do all that on the way to work I can see why you need to get up at 6a.m.

Someone once sang I hope I die before I get old. He's seventy-odd now and has changed his mind. Why worry about whether the you which is alive now would like the seventy-year-old you? She won't be around by the time you're seventy.

If you're plotting an early end - take your time to get it right. Maybe thirty or forty years. In the meantime: those trees won't climb themselves you know.

Dear Aunt Ali,

I don't know what to do. I have just finished an undergraduate course at university and I want to be recognised for the poetry I write which I am told is very emotionally evocative.

Unfortunately, poetry is not a lucrative career and I am struggling to get people to take me seriously. My self confidence is fragile and I get depressed when nasty people publish things about me which describe me as an 'elf' or 'Charlie-horse'.

Please advise.


Don't worry, you will get through it.

You are another victim of a certain brainless blonde bumpkin who thinks its funny to bully people from the safety of her column. Every month there are more of us and I hear a rustling in the trees which is all the little birds which are telling me a change is coming. Believe me - she'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes.

In the meantime - remember that great poets often suffered and usually had particularly sensitive souls which unfortunately are easily battered by the rough and tumble of life.

I'm not saying that suffering is good for you. But in a way it is good for your poetry. Maybe you can try to harness it to produce some more edgy work?

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