Welcome to the first of my agony aunt columns for Vada Magazine and, may I say, what an honour it is for you to have me. Much as I’d like to plough on with it, as they say, I should like to waggle in some peanut-sized details about myself first. There’s more to me than boiled fruitcake and church outings – though I haven’t been invited to an outing since an unfortunate incident at the last Port & Lemon tasting evening. Double-Gusset Mavis ate a raffia drinks coaster thinking it was a high fibre biscuit – I couldn’t quite remember the Heimlich Maneuver and couldn’t contain my laughter.
I’m retired, though I shan’t say how recently. I’ve been thrice engaged but never married. So, the prospect of children never really cropped up. Just as well really as I suffer post-natal depression when near other people’s children in a queue at Dorothy Perkins. Frankly I’m not interested in people until they’re old enough to mix me a margarita.
I’m not your average loose-of-marbles retired dear, behind with the trends. On the contrary, I’m on the cutting edge on fashion. I own two Duran Duran albums, know all about Friend-Reunited.com and regularly buy ready-made egg mayonnaise.
Thank you for your lovely, funny and disturbing questions. I look forward to helping with your deeply personal problems in public.
Beryl Fozdyke x.
I’m often anxious about approaching men in the street who I assume are gay, in case they’re straight. What are the best techniques for identifying a fellow homosexual?
– James, 18 (from Wales).
Does you mother know that you’re soliciting? The streets are no place to find a lover … or a father figure. I’d suggest a new approach, cupcake. Try loitering in some fashionable clothes store. If you’re looking for long-term head to the smart-shirt department first and hum a bit of Donna Summer. Don’t look too casual otherwise you may end up with the store detective instead.
I’ve been on a milkshake-only diet for the last month and yet I’ve still managed to gain 10lbs! I want to be slimmer for the summer haha. What should I do?
– Diane, 30 (from London)
Laughing at your own plight… You don’t sound the brightest star in the constellation, dearest. Now, root through your paper recycling bin for the milkshake sachets in question and make sure they’re of the slimming variety.
I am writing in on behalf of a dear friend … we shall call her Nora. She always keeps an old cup for the window cleaner, she won’t make him tea from her ‘good cups’ and she makes him sit outside to drink it. Now, he’s told her his wife has left him, and added that he is quite a good cook. Now Nora invites him in and uses the ‘best’ cups. Is it a good idea, on her part?
– Hazel, 40 (from Sheffield).
To be rather frank, Nora sounds batty for a bit of compo. It’s a harsh financial time and perhaps the window cleaner is overcharging. We do what we can to get what we can. If you’re jealous of the attention she’s garnishing there’s nothing like a night on the cobbles. Get your roots done, treat yourself to a Wow Brow, stick an ‘L-Plate’ around your neck and get out guzzling some Bacardi Breezers. However, you’re no spring chicken so do pop on a substantial pair of tights, dear.
I’ve started dating a mixed-race man who isn’t a Catholic. I’m nervous about introducing him to my parents – well, definitely my dad. He’s quite old fashioned with views on race and religion. Any advice?
– Holly, 30 (from Galway)
It’s a generational thing, dear. We all have to get with the times and this is just the sort of encouragement he’ll need. Racism went out of fashion with Feathered hair. For example, I like all races, particularly white English people. I can even stand the occasional person from Yorkshire these days. It’ll all work out as nice as Anneka Rice.
Do you own a pet and, if so, what is it called?
– Sean, 19 (from Melbourne).
What a lovely question, dear. None of this hoopla over sex, sex, sex.
No, I don’t own a pet.
I’ve been struggling for years now breaking into television. Last week I got through to the final auditions for the role of children’s presenter on a very big show but lost out to someone prettier – surprise, surprise. I’m feeling downhearted about it all and recently considered packing it in. What should I do?
– Myra, 24 (from Manchester)
I think you’re going to find it rather tough to break into the world of children’s entertainment with a name like Myra. You can legally change it, by deed pole, for a reasonable price. There’ll probably be enough leftover from a dole cheque to treat yourself to a slap-up dinner at Weatherspoons. All the best, cupcake.
I think my other half may be cheating on me. How will I know for sure?
– Chris, 37 (from Manchester).
There may be signs. If your partner is a lady she may seem very preoccupied lately, no longer reading Mills & Boon and perhaps taking up the acoustic guitar as a hobby. If it’s a man he’ll probably be bounding around the patio, in his best Primark underpants, saying ‘still got it’. Think on, dear.
Email your problems to Aunt Beryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.