From Rt Hon Gisela Stuart MP
Q. I keep getting into arguments with people about what being a Labour MP is all about. I used to think that being in government was better than being in opposition. They now tell me I’m wrong and that the years since 2010 have been better and purer than the flawed years from 1997 to 2010. Help. Are they right and am I wrong?
A. As a Roman Catholic German Brexiteer Labour MP for a Birmingham constituency, you should have grown used to being in a minority. If you would rather be in power than out of it, the obvious solution is to switch sides and join the Conservative benches. I have it on good authority that they would be pleased to welcome you — other, that is, than those low-church Remainers who are suspicious of Germans and prefer to avoid all things Brummie.
From Ed Balls
Q. I have been doing a lot of exercise over the past few weeks and I’ve lost well over a stone. Sadly my (full-time) exercise regime has just come to an enforced and rather abrupt halt. How do I stop just regaining all those pounds over Christmas?
A. You are unlikely to have the time or willpower to continue with the full-time exercise regime which created this flattering new physique. Yet there is no reason why you can’t adapt the method Beach Boy Brian Wilson used to lose nine stone, which was to employ two full-time minders to simply block his access to the fridge. Your own minders could double as researchers or even personal trainers and in this way you may retain the svelter outline which suits you so well.
From Nigel Farage
Q. An American friend of mine has just landed a top job. I am really pleased for him but no one else seems to think that it is a good idea. How do I persuade the doubters that he is a good guy really?
A. Why not suggest to your friend that he starts tweeting? Obviously, as he is a good guy, his natural amiability will shine through and the doubters will soon be singing his praises.
From Ruby Wax
Q. About 15 years ago, I was sent to meet a big New York businessman for my BBC series Ruby’s American Pie. However, things didn’t go to plan after he told me on his private jet that he was thinking about becoming the President of the United States and I started laughing. He told his pilot to land the plane and threw my crew and me off in the middle of middle America. He’s now the leader of the free world. What should I do?
A. Keep your head down in the short term. Stay off the telly and stick to the lower-profile but higher-value work you do which does so much to alleviate mental suffering.
From Gyles Brandreth
Q. Three women came for dinner the other night. They arrived not together but at the same time. Which of the three should I have greeted first? They are of a similar age and rank and I have known all three for the same number of years. One is a widow, one is married (but came without her husband), the third is separated and now ‘quietly on the market’. I greeted this one first, but my daughter reprimanded me, saying I had chosen her because she is the plainest and that I greeted the widow last because she is the most beautiful. They are coming again in the New Year. If they arrive together again, who should I greet first? My daughter suggests a group hug. They wouldn’t like that.
A. Why not force the women to self-sort their precedence by placing chairs or other furniture outside your front door to create a temporary funnel? In this way the women will have no other option but to present themselves in single file.
From Lady Violet Manners
Q. I’ve somehow developed a reputation as a party girl when in fact I’d much rather curl up on the sofa in front of a box set. Have you any helpful hints on how one can maintain appearances without actually having to go out?
A. Don’t worry: staying in is the new going out. Maximise on rarity value rather than ubiquity and maintain your stylish profile by posting pictures of how pampered you look at home in your von Halle or Poplin silk pyjamas (now trending as day clothes).
From Bill Bryson
Q. I can’t think of anything to put to Mary Killen. Is there something wrong with me?
A. No. On the contrary, you are in excellent company. Sir David Attenborough and Sir Tom Stoppard have found themselves in exactly the same position.
From Andrew Roberts
Q. My wife and I are addicted to the brilliant TV series Gogglebox, which makes us feel proud to be British. We know two of the people who appear on it socially and might be meeting them in the new year. How can we show our appreciation of their superb, hilarious and insightful contributions without seeming sycophantic or embarrassingly adulatory?
A. No need to worry as one of the couple is so reclusive you are unlikely to encounter him outside the television screen. The other would be able to offset any sycophancy with her memory of the verbal abuse she once received when tactlessly bursting into your bedroom at a house party to give you an unwelcome wake-up call.
From Louis Smith
Q. I am a big animal lover and my husky, Luna, is very special to me. But when it comes to keeping food or furniture intact, she is a nightmare. As soon as presents are under the tree, she demolishes them. How do I keep the spirit of Christmas without banishing her to the garden for the entirety?
A. Christmas is also a time when bad human behaviour comes into focus and tensions run high anyway. You could sidestep the further problems which Luna brings to the table by having her chemically coshed for the day with dog Ritalin.