Death of an Agony Aunt, Birth of an Agony Uncle by Trevor Plumbly
A Second Opinion
Aunt Abby died recently: not my personal aunt but the last of the great agony aunts. Those of us who followed her syndicated weekly column of gentle guidance and reproof, enjoyed a delightful part of newspaper folklore. Some, like me, pored over the misdeeds and misadventures of her hapless correspondents out of sheer nosiness, whilst others probably viewed her weekly wisdom as part of their family life. That being the case, I feel constrained to offer my services to any members of the fourth estate who may feel that I could fill her sensible shoes. To assist them in their deliberations, I include below possible scenarios with ‘Aunt Abby’ solutions and ‘Uncle Trevor’ advice. I’m sure you’ll agree that the latter is a little more suited to today’s seekers of enlightenment.
1. Verity of Salem Mass. writes: “I am eighteen and very confused. My older cousin makes improper remarks to me when no-one else is in the room. I don’t want to cause family troubles, but I’m very upset and want him to stop. What should I do?”
“Situations like this should be addressed sensitively but firmly. You should discuss this with your mother who will speak to your father, he in turn will ask the cousin’s father to tell his son that his remarks are inappropriate. This will ensure that it remains within the family and avoid any unpleasantness.”
“Next time you’re alone, look him in the eye and say “Quit it you jerk” then knee the little git in the goolies. I don’t see the wisdom of going to your elders on this one unless you’ve got absolute proof. Salem hasn’t got a very good history when it comes to unsubstantiated claims by young women.”
2. Crispian of Henley-on-Thames writes: “We are a young married couple and live a full social life, but I notice my wife is becoming increasingly flirtatious at parties and I find this upsetting and embarrassing. I have tried to explain my feelings to her but she just says “It’s just a bit of fun and nothing to worry about.” But I can’t help feeling I’m the butt of party jokes. How can I resolve this?”
“This is a very delicate situation for a young married man to find himself in and needs a sensitive approach to avoid harsh words. I feel that a quiet romantic dinner would help where you could explain your feelings for her and your misgivings. If she can be made aware of the threat to your love, I feel sure she will understand and act accordingly.”
“Time for a make-over, Crispian. First up, the name’s got to go! Whoever gave you that one obviously didn’t know what they were doing. Pick something a bit more interesting like ‘Rolfe’. Fight fire with fire; I know Henley-on-Thames ain’t exactly sin city, but there must be other females there. Be cunning, chat them up; be more cunning, toss a pair of ladies’ knickers under the car seat where she’s sure to find them. Put the phone down guiltily when she comes into the room. Put yourself about a bit mate, man up! Show this little aspiring strumpet she’s not irreplaceable.”
3. Rachel from Sydney writes: “I am a 65 year old widow, my late husband Maurice was a very successful businessman. I have recently attended spiritualist meetings and been surprised to find myself feeling much closer to Morry. I have made several sizeable donations to the church which I can easily afford, but this appears to upset my daughter-in-law. I have attempted to discuss it with my son but he doesn’t like disagreeing with his wife. What can I do?”
“I have found that spiritual comfort is one of life’s greatest joys, far more important than money or family approval. I feel that your son is showing tremendous sensitivity by not interfering. Be firm with your daughter-in law but continue to attend to your own emotional needs.”
“It’s never been my place to criticise Aunt A, but I reckon the old girl’s gone doolally. People just don’t hold hands round the tea table anymore. Forget Auntie’s saccharin suggestions Rach; get a life! Unless that church can reproduce Morry in the flesh, give them the elbow, along with your milquetoast son and his harridan. Go on a cruise: there must be umpteen 50 year old toy boys out there gagging for a bit of action. Drink Champagne, dance till dawn if the old pegs can take it; in short Rach, enjoy! As Morry would attest, if he could “You’re a long time looking at the lid.”
4. Charles from Los Angeles writes: “I am middle-aged, a highly paid computer programmer, but my company is downsizing its operation here and outsourcing much of its work to India. This is causing sleepless nights along with daily stress attacks. Any advice would be appreciated.”
“As the song goes ‘Que sera sera’ my dear, and sadly you can’t really change fate. But relaxation does help one to cope. I find that a quiet room, a cup of chamomile tea and light chamber music are enormously restorative in times of stress.”
“Look mate get a grip! You didn’t want to know the Indians when half their population was surviving on boiled rice and onion bhajis; you lot were too busy sucking on cigars in Silicon Valley to care, now it’s your turn to pay the bill. Shut yourself off with a couple of bottles of single malt and a load of fags. When you’ve done with those, you’ll be too hungover to worry about stress. Then think about your future. How about running a corner store?”
This should become a regular. The opinions of Uncle Trevor are definitely ‘Twirly’ friendly.