Marje Rambleshanks, the Drone’s agony aunt

agony aunt.jpg

Gone viral

Dear Aunt Marje

Help! So these new Covid restrictions are really, really freaking me out. What am I to do?

Snow Flake

Dear SF

As someone who has just realised that her byline picture is actually Claire the cross-dressing ceramicist from Chelmsford, do you honestly think I give a flying fuck? (Rosalie, dear, please try to remember your new role as a caring counsellor and confidante — Ed).

All right, then. Listen up! Get cooking. Learn to play the guitar as well as Tel Manners (there’s a couple of days accounted for). Go literary: absorb the collected works of T.P. Fielden, the Cocky Clements canon, the odd Zackon novella. Speak Welsh (Am yr uffern am?).

Use the time saved by the pub curfew wisely. Get fit: at least two hours exercise a day, weights, bike rides, punishing Pilates. Target 100,000 steps a week: lose some weight for Christ’s sake.

What about family time? Shut the laptop. Switch off the Huawei. Chat to siblings instead and really listen to what they say. Show mum and dad you really care. Eat together, laugh together, love together, play together, pray together.

And when you find in six months that the only time you get up from your fetid pit is to accept parcels from Amazon or TKMaxx you’ll realise what a snivelling loser you are. That help?

Star struck

Dear Aunt Marje,

Forgive me for mentioning it, but the new photograph used to illustrate your column seems to show a much older lady. What’s happened?

Worried Fan

Dear WF,

I have to be careful what I say, you understand, but there appears to have been an outbreak of wokeness at the Daily Drone (and I appreciate that’s an oxymoron). Apparently, Lord D has decreed that what we call ‘byline pictures’ should more accurately reflect our roles on the online newspaper.

Thus, the Editor will no longer be portrayed as a cheeky young scamp wearing a monocle who squeezes himself under desks and makes duck noises but will now appear as a venerable gentleman, past middle age, who sports a pillbox sunhat on the front at Swanage.

I have been told that my photograph must show me more as an Agony Aunt than as an astrologer.

I chide myself for not seeing this coming but also feel this is a gentle rebuke to me for not predicting what the stars foretell (tall, dark stranger is about to enter your life yawn, yawn)

Apparently, His Lordship  has suggested that I should forget the horoscopes and concentrate on my valuable work as a counsellor and adviser and that I should model myself on Marje Proops (no, me neither). Proddie says he once had a drink with Ms Proops in the back bar of the Flying Fuck. Or it may have been Jean Rook, he’s not sure. 

Anyway, onwards and sideways!

Under cover

Dear Gipsy Rosalie,


Freshers Face

Dear FF,

Congratulations on the shortest question I have been asked and, surely, a bouquet to me for realising what the fuck you’re on about. It’s university time isn’t it? In a couple of weeks young people will leave home to start their adult life as students.

And the most pressing questions are not: Am I at the right university? Am I on the correct course? Should I be here at all? Will I lose my virginity before Christmas? Can I hold my drink enough not to make a fool of myself? Is it really possible to stand on a chair with a full pint of Struan’s Scrotum on your head and remove all your clothes while singing Have You Seen The Muffin Man??

No, the almost unanswerable poser is: what tog rating should the student duvet be? 

You see, as I found at DMU, halls based on single bedrooms grouped round joint living room/kitchens can be so bloody hot. But from the second year on you’ll be in some grotty student digs miles from the union, in an area even Uber dares not roam, where the heating’s on the blink, the wind whistles through ill-fitting windows and the landlord’s a predatory space invader to say the least.

Basically, the higher the tog rating the warmer the duvet or, to put it more simply, as a tog is 0.1 m2K/W, the thermal resistance in togs is equal to 10 times the temperature difference Celsius between the two surfaces of a material when the flow of heat is equal to one watt per square metre.

I suggest you reject the one-tog-fits-all theory and go for: first year (warm halls): 2.5 - 7 tog; second and third year (draughty digs): 10.5 - 13. Don’t worry about the expense (they’re as cheap as chips at Dunelm). After a year of vomit, semen, jam, egg yolk, dhansak, baked beans and pot noodle effluent you’ll find you need a new duvet and, by then, you will probably have dropped out anyway.

Cool at school

Dear Gipsy Rosalie 

We’ve got our eldest girl into a rather good senior school (the fees are ruinous, by the way). She’s a  bright kid and I’ve no worries about her academically. I’m more interested in extra curricular activities which will transform her into a well-rounded young woman. Any thoughts?

Mother Hen

Dear MH,

You’re right. Bespectacled, swottish geeks are no one’s idea of fun. My views on dancing (see Light Fantastic below) have received more Drone ‘hits’ than even my advice to the young man whose wife started carrying a whip and serving him hoppel poppel. Which reminds me: cooking is still very cool.

Singing’s nice and very de rigueur among the set I guess you’re aiming at. Stick to motets and madrigals, though. Karaoke and screeching I Will Survive in a Prosecco Made Me Do It T-shirt will get your gel noticed in totally the wrong way. 

Swimming’s a must, by the way. It’s no use being on a yacht if you can’t front crawl over the cabin boy on a beach accessible only by sea. 

Other sport? Tennis is OK but, since the Williams sisters, its stock has fallen somewhat. Rugby? Avoid like the the BBC ‘news’ (and the plague). Wearing a scrum cap, bandaging your breasts and boasting you’re a hooker is not the way forward. 

Footie? Don’t even mention it but, in truth, it’s clever to know the difference between a clean sheet and a cattenaccio. Avoid rowing. Chaps look dishy with their bodies between their knees but, for a girl,  all that pulling, combined with swimming training, produces shoulders and thighs like the finest prosciutto. Let’s not mention darts or snooker at all shall we?  

My uncle Ronnie, AKA the Scapegrace of the Remove, often recalled an Old Pauline he used to date who was a whizz at the sort of card games usually played by riverboat roués with narrowed eyes, a long cheroot and a Peacemaker in the pocket.

Apparently, what she couldn’t do going blind with a royal bouncing flush and a pryle of threes was no one’s business. Maybe your daughter should try it.

Travellers’ tales

Dear Aunt Marje

As it’s holiday time, do you ever get nostalgic for your caravan days?

Camp Follower

Dear CF,

Caravan days? Ah, I see what you mean. No, not for me the open road: hot, sweet tea brewed in a billycan in a lay-by near Basildon and piebald ponies in the paddock. No hedgehogs roasting on an open fire for me nor Hunt the Beaver with the Galway cousins in the river at Appleby. No evocative scent of freshly mixed Tarmac, nostalgic winter nights twisting plastic heather into ‘lucky’ nosegays or browsing through the latest brochures for upscale pick-ups and luxury 4X4s. 

Much less romantic, I’m afraid.

Although, when I was very young, Granny used to take us to San Marino and Ancona or over to Hvar and Korcula if she could hitch a ride on someone’s yacht. Of course that was in the old Yugoslavia, ruled over by someone called Tito. Proddie says that the mere mention of his name used to elicit much merriment in the old Express newsroom. What larks they must have had.

My parents favoured what we now call staycations. Swanage used to be a favourite but mummy says it’s now been invaded by surburban riffraff in designer sleeveless vests and pillbox sun hats anxious to replicate Tel’s Caff’n’Bar in Tenerife (John Smiths on tap and Tea Like Muvver Used ter Make). Now a typical seafront conversation is: ‘You look well, Al. Bin abroad? ‘ Nah. Just down the van for a bit of colour’.

Light fantastic

Dear Aunt Marje

Do you think it’s necessary these days for a girl to know how to dance?

Dancing Teen

Dear DT,

Of course it is. Dance? Love it. Just L-U-R-V-E it. Can’t wait for Strictly to start. Socially distanced? Don’t care. The glitter ball spinning, Tess and the other one mummy says is beyond the fringe, Flamboyant Bruno and Cuddly Craig (that’s not a phrase you see often). Daring, skimpy outfits for the girls; same for the boys. En pointe, I declare, en pointe.

At LEH the games mistress, Miss Fortescue-Pirbright, was surprisingly nimble and light on her feet for someone who propped the Hampton Ladies extra B. There’s nothing like a Funky Gibbon between friends, she used to say. Miss FP and her companion, Elspeth, introduced us to the gavotte, minuet, bourrue, palais glide, veleta, gay gordons, the saunter, the galop and the Viennese Whirl (or is that a cake?).*

I also joined a dance group at freshers when I went up to De Montford. To be honest, when you’re doing media studies there’s plenty of time for that sort of thing. 

Course it hasn’t got the social allure that it once had. Dance cards, bowls of punch and twilight assignations on the terrace, a la Joan Hunter Dunn. That sort of thing.

I remember Granny Rambleshanks confessed that she always got a bit breathless doing the dashing white sergeant and saying that, after a Martini or two, there was nothing so satisfying as a good energetic frug. That’s granny for you!

*It’s  a biscuit — Ed

Serious point

Dear Aunt Marje,

I know it’s an odd thing to ask a journalist but do you read newspapers?

Reverse Ferret

Dear RF,

Actually, I don’t in the physical, arm-aching, wind-flapping, nasty inky newsprint way but, of course, like most people of my age, I read them online. The former Expressman who seems to be a fixture in the Drone newsroom (he calls himself Prodnose for some reason; no, me neither!), often reminisces about the ‘good old days’. He mourns what he sees as the decline of journalism. The nationals are limping on but he says local newspapers are withering before our eyes.

For instance, when he started on a county town weekly it would cover two magistrates’ courts daily, quarter sessions, assizes, county court and bankruptcy hearings. Nowadays, does anyone go to court at all? Just think of all the stories that are missed, the miscreants not held to account.

Old Proddie says he’s given up on his local rag and has to rely on his council website and its email alerts for ‘news’ about his community. But they only tell you what they want you to know and as Hearst said: ‘News is something someone wants to suppress.’

Here’s a question for you, RF: Do you think I am in the right job?

Get fell in!

Dear Aunt Marje,

Do you think young people should have some form of military training?

Square Basher

Dear SB,

Although my old school, Lady Eleanor Holles, had a CCF detachment, I never joined but they say the games mistress, Miss Fortescue-Pirbright, would have reduced a bunch of squaddies to tears in no time. I once overheard Parry, the school porter, saying of her: ‘Old Thunderthighs could make me stand to attention any time’ but I’m not really sure what he was referring to. 

My cousin, Richie, went to an obscure school in Northern Ireland where the Corps was run by a former Ranger (you know, the ones with the funny green hats). But he said that all they seemed to do was stand around shouting ‘No surrender!’ at each other. 

Perhaps you’re thinking of the Scouts. I Zoomed my great aunt, Edith Ladysmith-Shanks, who knew the Baden Powells between the wars, at her Pitlochry care home. She recalled fondly the boys camping in Fowler’s Meadow behind the Dower House and watching them fiddling around in their tight khaki shorts. With an outrageous wink, she said: ‘Now that even the Chief Scout is bare, all bets are orf. Be Prepared, don’t ye know?’ I’m still trying to work out what she meant.

Trouble brewing

Dear Aunt Marje,

Do you think there is anything about which more bollocks is written and spoken than Real Ale?

Betty Babycham

Dear BB,

Don’t get me started! I see them in the back bar of the Flying Fuck when I’m on a break: the CAMRA Crew. Hollering, bragging, braying, bantering — the effluent of minor public schools and second rate unis (né polys) with their cheap suits, spiky hair and straggly beards half hiding fat, florid faces.

Sampling guest ales in shot glasses, amid much lip smacking, before deigning to buy a glass of the apparently orgasm-inducing nectar which they hold up to the light, to rapturous acclaim, as if it were the Holy Grail.

Then it’s back to fraternal ribaldry, telling risqué jokes, denigrating the Chemical Clowns (lager drinkers), trashing reputations and swapping assessments of the new graduate trainee in Analytics, the one with the big bust. 

My brother (one after-match shandy then on to the red) invited some team members from West Byfleet Extra B around for a drink in the garden. As they are all real ale bores, he laid on a decent array ranging from Pride, for the unadventurous, then Speckled Hen, some Hobgoblin Ruby, Adnams Ghost Ship, St Austell Tribute and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.

They started off in industrial quaffing mode but as soon as they learned there was also a half decent Chilean merlot on offer they switched as swiftly as shit off a shovel. Feet of clay posers, BB, feet of clay posers.


Dear Aunt Marje,

Now the cricket season has started at last (my, some of those West Indian chaps are fit, aren’t they?) my American boyfriend has been watching the first Test on Sky. He has no knowledge of cricket at all: how can I explain what’s going on?

Sally Midon

Dear SM,

It’s simple. Tell him there are two sides: one out in the field and the other in.

Each player that’s in the side that’s in goes out.

When he’s out he comes in and the next player goes in until he’s out.

When they’re all out, the side’s that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.

Sometimes a player can be in and not out.

When a player goes out to go in, the team who are out try to get him out and when he is out he goes in and the next player in goes out and goes in when he’s out.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time but are never in except when they come in. They decide when the players who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the players have been out and both teams have been out twice after all the players have been in, including those who are not out, they all come in for tea and that is the end of the game.

Got it?

Eton mess

Dear Aunt Marje,

I fancy getting a tattoo. What do you think?

Blank Canvas

Dear BC,

Oooh, er. I wouldn’t rush into this if I were you. I’ve never wanted a scarab on my shoulder, My Little Pony on my ankle or a dolphin diving down my knickers to my back passage. Tattoos may be all right for footballers, servicemen and flash herberts from Essex but not for people like us.

And fast forward a few years to when your firstborn has been offered an all-expenses, fees paid scholarship to Eton. All it requires is for you to go along and be ‘accepted’. You might put some slap on that tear on your left cheek and hide the 

L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E on your knuckles but do you really think you’ll get away with dancing with the Provost at Founder’s Ball when you’ve got Fuck Me Roughly I’m A Biker’s Bitch all over your décolletage?

Flight of fancy

Dear Aunt Marje,

I thought I’d turn to you because the Drone’s always good on rural matters (other so-called online newspapers are so London centric). We’re having some trouble with green parakeets which have taken over our village, terrorising other birds and screeching interminably. Any suggestions?

Country Lover

Dear CL,

None, I’m afraid. It’s just something we have to live with like the fucking BBC. But let me debunk one rural myth. Some say they are descended from parakeets released into the wild when production of the Humphrey Bogart-Katherine Hepburn film The African Queen (filmed at, bizarrely, Isleworth Studios) ended in 1951. This is not true. But the estimated 8,000 or so breeding pairs of rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri) now living in the UK are becoming a problem.

Mummy remembers Grandfather Rambleshanks sitting on the terrace with the first Tanqueray and tonic (lime, never lemon) of the evening watching the sun go down over the village green and cursing the parakeets which had taken over the silver birch on the edge of Walton’s Spinney. When they started to eat his Coxes, he got Wee Mac, the ghillie, to break out his 1915 Addis and Lloyd single barrel .410 and took pot shots at the little blighters. Of course, you couldn’t do that now.

Goodbye, Dolly!

Dear Aunt Marje,

Would you want to live for ever?

Day Dreamer

Dear DD,

My, what a simple yet complex question. It certainly sent me scurrying for my crystal ball, shuffling the tarot cards and dancing around the chicken bones. 

I also spent time in Daddy’s wine cellar where I keep my reference books on the works of the Extreme life Extensionists. How shall I guide you? I could remind you of the thought of one (long dead) philosopher: ‘The trouble with immortality is it just goes on and on’ or Edgar A. Shoaff’s aphorism: ‘Immortality - a fate worse than death’.

Instead I will quote the reply Miss Alabama gave when she was asked the same question during the Miss USA contest in 1994: ‘I would not live for ever because we should not live for ever because if we were supposed to live for ever then we would live for ever but we cannot live for ever which is why I would not live for ever.’

Says it all, doesn’t it?

Hello, Dolly!

Dear Aunt Marje,

I see the Sunday Times is trumpeting the appointment of a new agony aunt who promises to give advice on ‘life/work mojos, existential angst and life dilemmas’ plus ‘the worries that keep you awake at night’. But isn’t that what you do?

Jess Asken

Dear JA

Yes, I’d noticed that someone called Dolly Alderton (cue Hello, Dolly! headlines from unimaginative, piss-poor subs) was going to take on this task. I suspect, though, it will turn out to be the usual quasi woke, condescending dross about discharges, penis lengths, Second World War Auxiliary Territorial Service breast-enlargement workouts or whether it is feasible to conceive while standing erect (sic).

On the other hand, you will have noticed that I concentrate on more cerebral intellectual challenges. My next, when the Drone Editor chooses to publish it, would have taxed the metaphysical masters, including Sartre, Utkarsh Chatarvedi, Joseph Owens (although he was more of a redemptorist) and Gottlob Frege. Watch this space!

Stop Press

Dear Aunt Marje,

I wonder if you could help on an educational matter. I am in the sixth form at St Heather’s, Upminster (you know, it’s several stops past Barking) and am considering going up to De Montfort University in Leicester to study journalism like what you did. 

I have to admit my grammar is not good, I can’t stand current affairs (except between Love Island celebs!), am not in the least bit inquisitive and strong drink makes me squiffy. Do you think I’m cut out for the sound and fury of the Street of Shame?

Dora Doorstep

Dear DD

I recommend a thorough, ongoing review of your career ambitions. As you will appreciate, it is not long since I left DMU but I have been chatting to that odd cove, a former Expressman, who has taken to hanging around the Daily Drone newsroom. He said that a journalism or media degree was ‘as much use as the rough end of a green pineapple for soothing piles’ whatever that means. Apparently, newspapers prefer to teach entrants the rudiments of their craft themselves rather than rely on some has-been from a weekly newsroom who has reinvented himself as a ‘lecturer’. If you still want to be a hack, get a degree in History, English or PPE by all means, he says, but then move onto a Masters in Bare-faced Cheek and a Doctorate in Ratlike Cunning. They’re the real journalism qualifications.

Sour taste

Dear Aunt Marje,

Please advise me on a sensitive matter of etiquette. Some girlfriends and I have taken to hosting small champagne parties in our gardens as lockdown is gradually lifted. The other day one of them served a champagne which I found distinctly sour and unpalatable. I mentally held my nose, drank mine and made polite noises of appreciation. What should I have done? By the way, I only caught a quick glimpse of the label: Pal Roget I thought it was.

Feeling Flat

Dear FF,

If the champagne had been Pal Roget it would have not only been sour but acid, acidy, acidulated, tart, bitter, sharp, acetic, vinegary, pungent, acrid, biting, stinging, burning, smarting, unpleasant,  distasteful and, for that matter, distinctly unfriendly. So I guess it was, in fact, Pol Roger, a decent enough bottle of fizz. Look, even the best wines can sometimes be a bit ‘orf’. The polite thing to do is to grin and bear it and say something like: ‘I do so love those West-facing grapes from the Vallée d’Épernay, don’t you?’

Weighty matter

Dear Aunt Marje,

My wife and I are a fit and active couple in our seventies frustrated by the restrictions the lockdown has put on regular exercising. We go for a daily walk, which is good for our legs etc but, apart from boring press-ups, we are at a loss how to hone our coracobrachialis, triceps brachii and, of course, the musculocutaneous nerve. Can you help?

Muscle Tony

Dear MT,

I’m glad you and HID are still working out. Here is an exercise which promotes wellbeing and gradually gets rid of those pesky bingo wings!

Take a 5lb potato bag in each hand and hold them out in front of you for as long as you can and then repeat to the side. Try to reach a full minute and then relax. Each day you’ll find you can do this for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks move up to 10lb potato bags and gradually increase to 30lb and 40lb bags. Then go for a 50lb bag in each hand remembering to hold them out for at least a minute. When you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag and really go for the burn!

Tinkle teaser

Dear Aunt Marje,

Now the lockdown has been eased we have taken to inviting a few friends to have a drink (or two!) in the garden when the weather is fine. Trouble is, my wife is reluctant to allow them to come inside to use our bathroom and this is causing problems.  It’s all right for the men: we just tell them to wander to the end of the garden and to pee into the compost heap in the belief that human urine discourages vermin. But for the wives it’s a bit tricky. Any thoughts?

Splash Sub

Dear SS,

You seem well on top of this as far as the men are concerned and are also avoiding unsightly drips on your bathroom floor tiles (yellow and white: not a good mix). For the women, I suggest issuing incontinence pads. Granny Rambleshanks swears by Always Discreet (

They’re ultra thin, comfortable and fit any body shape. Alternatively, it might be fun to watch them squirm, red-faced after two or three glasses of PG before dashing to their cars. After all, you wouldn’t want them to outstay their welcome would you?

What a pillage

Dear Aunt Marje,

My partner recently discovered he has Scandinavian ancestry and is now in extreme Viking mode: full beard, industrial strength wassailing, the lot. When we go for our lockdown walks we have to pass over a little bridge. He has taken to scampering ahead, hiding underneath it and leaping out at me, shouting: “I’m a troll fol-de-rol and I’m going to eat you for supper.” What shall I do?

Little Mermaid

Dear LM,

This is more common than you’d think. If you’re into a little role play why not go along with it? But if it’s not your bag there’s only one (or is it three?) language these butch, horned- helmeted Vikings understand. Just shout: ‘Borta, foul troll eller sa kommer jag att klippa bort dina javla bollar!’ And ask him to pick the bones out of that.

Innocent abroad

Dear Aunt Marje,

Excuse me, dear lady, if I raise an indelicate matter with you which I appreciate will not be within your usual area of expertise but I don’t know who else to turn to. I am asking for a friend, you understand, who lives in Switzerland where certain exotic activities are legal but are strictly controlled.

Now that lockdown rules are being relaxed there, bijou health spas are re-opening but, to avoid face to face contact, are restricting activities to, forgive me, Doggy Style and Reverse Cowgirl. These aren’t my friend’s favourite activities. What should he do?

Firm Friend

Dear FF,

You are correct: this is not a milieu which I normally inhabit but a quick perusal of some restricted Zurich websites tells me that further anticipated easing of restrictions will lead to all services being restored. Until then, I suggest that if your ‘friend’ can’t wait until Calamity Jane, Sitting Bull and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly are back on the menu he should take himself in hand and get a grip.

Daily drone

Dear Aunt Marje,

There is a persistent droning and humming noise in my neighbourhood and, without mincing words, it’s doing my head in. What do you think it could be?

Buzz Word

Dear BW,

I do sympathise. Yours is not the only plea for help I have received on this matter. All I can suggest is that you politely ask your neighbours to turn off their “toys”.  Even with lockdown restrictions curtailing normal activity, it is most selfish and inconsiderate to do this especially when humming as well exacerbates the annoyance.

Titfer tat

Dear Aunt Marje,

Now that we are, at last, receiving guidance on face masks and can go out more have you any advice on suitable male head covering during the pandemic? In particular, is it OK to sport something flamboyant or outré or is that just showing off at a time of national crisis?

Max Headline

Dear MH,

This is a very pertinent question just now. I’ve noticed that men I’d like to rub up against in the park are increasingly wearing all sorts of way-out head gear. Forget baseball caps bearing the logo of some obscure American college softball team (Go, Wankers!), that’s very much pre-pandemic. I’ve seen charity shop bowlers, derbys, homburgs and fedoras and even a chap in a floppy rain hat with the word Ping on it.  Personally, I’d favour one of those natty, crocheted pill box hats which 

are increasingly de rigueur in posh Thames-side towns (Dear Editor: have you, by chance, got a photo to illustrate what I mean?)

No — Ed


Dear Aunt Marje,

Following on from Baffled Sixthformer’s reference to Sophie Raworth, are we liking the newsreader’s lustrous, longer, lockdown locks?

Fringe Benefit

Dear FB,


Serious point

Dear Aunt Marje,

I’m confused. During the VE commemorations every time Sophie Raworth and Co referred to the Nazis, I heard my grandad in his wipedown chair muttering: “They were fucking Germans”. He’s asleep now but what did he mean?

Baffled Sixthformer

Dear BS,

Grandads aren’t often right but yours is. The woke media, led by the supine BBC, have been falling over themselves not to appear to be beastly to the Germans in recent years.

I can even recall a risible reference to “the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia” which is like saying “the Labour invasion of Iraq”. 

Isn’t it the case that while only 10 percent of Germans were members of the Nazi Party, almost all Nazis were Germans? 

Twitter twit

Dear Aunt Marje,

I used to be an important man and feel that I have still got something to say and should be listened to. However, whenever I sit in my wipedown chair with a packet of choccie Ds by my side and express my views on Twitter or Facebook I am met with a tirade of insults from the so-called Twitteratti who show absolutely no respect. Should I give up?

Keyboard Warrior

Dear KW,

I do sympathise. You sound as if you are too sensitive for the cut and thrust of the Twittersphere. Perhaps you should acknowledge that your future is behind you and stick to self abuse.

Yoga bare

Dear Aunt Marje,

As we are isolating in our flat, my boyfriend and I have started having naked yoga sessions on our balcony. Our versions of Tadasana, Paschimottanasana and Trikonasana are obviously pleasing our neighbours who have taken to coming out on their balconies to applaud us. How we all chuckled when the widow at No.13 shouted: “Go on, gel: give him one for me.” We’re not doing anything wrong, are we?

Susie Sanskrit

Dear SS,

Don’t worry. Yoga is a splendid way to keep fit and the osanas you mention are fine for relative beginners: you are obviously inspiring people around you. I would caution against going too far too quickly, especially on a cool spring evening. In particular I would avoid attempting the Maharashtra version of the Downward Facing Dog or the Kursiasana as practised by Guru Rambleshanks Singh in Lakshadweep. Better to withdraw and go inside.

Fat lady sings

Dear Aunt Marje,

Since lockdown started I have put on weight. During a recent Zoom link-up with friends I distinctly heard someone say: ‘You don’t get many of those to the pound.’ I confess I may be eating and drinking too much and not exercising enough and intend to address this. Is there anything else I can do?

Fat Lady

Dear FL,

First of all, please ignore snide remarks from so-called ‘friends’ and don’t beat yourself up over this. Little things can make a difference. Check the shampoo you are using. If the label says ‘For extra body and volume’, avoid it. I myself have started showering with Dawn dishwashing soap. It’s label reads: ‘Dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove’

I hope this helps, Fattie.

Kiss and make up

Dear Aunt Marje,

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for lockdown to end so I can meet up with my friends and maybe get alongside a hunk or two (it’s been so long!). However, I am aware that the virus will still be lurking around and I would welcome some guidance on how to greet people once the two-metre rule has been relaxed.

Goodtime Girl

Dear GG, 

This is a hot topic right now and you’re right to try to clarify things. I guess social hand shaking and double or (continental) triple check kissing will be out for some time. Instead, why not try some Inuit or Maori nose rubbing as long as you don’t inhale. In a more intimate situation I am sure that even the most hygienic and health conscious chap isn’t going to mind being touched up around the nether regions after a few drinks. As for me, although Wimbledon is off I’m still looking forward to a few sets of tonsil tennis. Love all, I say!

What a burqa

Dear Aunt Marje,

I am a traditional dairy farmer in Wiltshire and my young wife has started to wear what she calls a hijab when she’s doing farm work, including feeding the cows. She has also begun using Arabic phrases such as as-Salam alaykum and ma sha Allah and has even threatened to wear a burqa to the WI when it starts up again. She says she is “fulfilling her destiny under His sight.” How can I bring her to her senses?

Farmer Giles

Dear FG

Call her bluff. Explain to her that you are diversifying and that you have swapped her for a starter herd of camels. Tell her that by Christmas she’ll be living with a 60-year-old Arab tuk tuk driver, his mother and two sisters and their families in a second-floor flat opposite the Abdul Nasser Mosque in downtown Ramallah. It might not work but it’s worth a try.

Hoppel Poppel? Help

Dear Aunt Marje,

My German wife has begun to behave a little oddly under social isolating. She’s started strutting around hitting her thigh boots with a riding crop. While I wouldn’t normally mind this, she has started saying things like: “For you, englischer, der var is over. It’s hoppel poppel for you tonight, my leibling, and you’ll learn to like it. What should I do?

Max Headroom

Dear MH,

Learn to like it. Otherwise, she might threaten you with beamtenstippe, bauernfruhst or bollenfieisch. Mind you, if she mentions Strammer Max, Max, I’d break lockdown and pop out for a takeaway.

Damp barmaids

Dear Aunt Marje,

The last time I went to the rugby club my chums put some testosterone in my pint of Cor Blimey and ever since I have been — how can I put this on a family website? — “over trained.” Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but I live alone and am self-isolating. Any thoughts?

Happy Hooker

Dear HH,

My usual advice would be a wipedown with a damp barmaid and a lie-down in a darkened pub but that jumped-up twat Matt Hancock has knocked that on the head. Instead, I prescribe a vigorous socially distanced walk and a cold shower followed by two Matthew Parris columns and an image of Diane Abbott on a motor bike. That should do it.

Missing links

Dear Aunt Marje,

I am a keen golfer and before the Coronavirus lockdown I was thinking of playing a round with a new member I met at the club. The restrictions prevented that but now he has suggested sneaking on to the course and trying out a hole or two.

My WhatsApp pals think that would be OK. What do you think?
Golfin’ Granny

Dear GG,

I agree so long as you remember social distancing on the tees, stay a fair way apart on the doglegs and don’t, on any account, handle his balls in the rough if he tries to mark your card.

© 2005-2020 Alastair McIntyre