Lucy Vickery

Question time | 5 July 2018

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In Competition No. 3055 you were invited to take a well-known figure on the world stage, living or dead, and cast them in the role of agony aunt/uncle, submitting a problem of your invention and their solution. There is space only to high-five the winners below, who take £25 each. Bill Greenwell gets £30.

My boyfriend says I should ‘give in’ to his advances. What’s your advice?


Some boyfriend; some cheek. I would observe that many of his ilk have tried to break down such defences, but few have succeeded, at least not honourably. Upon resistance rests your future. Upon the strength of your redoubt rests the probity of your family, future as past. Your toils, be they in the woods and forests, or behind the bicycle sheds abutting your place of education, and no matter how ingenious the perfidy that this young man seeks to perform, are trials which all our young people must endure. At any rate, that is what you must try to do. You must fight them in the parks, you must fight them in the clubs, you must fight them in leisure centres and shopping malls, you must fight them in their many private automobiles; you must never surrender.

Bill Greenwell (Winston Churchill)


Dear Comrade Stalin,

I am so perplexed. I am keeping company with Igor, an engineering student at the People’s Technical Institute here in Smolensk. He is older and very clever and I do not always understand him. The other day he laughingly said that Lenin ‘leapfrogged the dialectic’ and would not explain. Is this something I will have to do when we are married?

Olga (17)


Dear Olga,

You are a sweet, sincere girl, and you have done right to report this problem. Please do not feel too sad if I tell you that Igor is playing with your emotions and not the person he seems. He certainly makes bad jokes! I suspect you will soon find him disappearing completely from your life. Give your time and energy to Komsomol and you will forget him and find another, always keeping on the alert for spies, traitors and saboteurs.

Basil Ransome-Davies 


Dear Teresa,

I have been married for 40 years, and though we generally get along together pretty well, sometimes my husband can be a little annoying. Then I get in a mood and have half a mind to divorce him, though this would be a financial disaster. What should I do?

Puzzled, Rotherham


Dear Puzzled,

Half a mind? Assess your feelings, and if you are — say — 52 per cent in favour of leaving, go for the divorce. Tell him firmly, divorce means divorce, and state your terms. He will probably have clever lawyers, while you will maybe have to make do with someone with little negotiating experience who makes it up as he goes along. Never mind. Repeat to yourself that slogan, divorce means divorce, and remember — no settlement is better than a bad settlement. Don’t fret about the finances. Something is bound to turn up.

George Simmers


Dear Uncle Vladimir,

My ex is a neighbour. She lives next door and I fancy her. Friends say I should let her be. What can I do?


This is no time for soft measures. What are you, a man or a mouse? Why let the wusses around you make decisions for you? Move fast and seize control of the situation before she has time to make other plans or meet someone else who might take her side. Go in hard with everything you’ve got; few can resist a show of strength and some charismatic muscle-flexing. OK, you’ll be the subject of local gossip for a while but that will die down; they’ll find some other topic to argue about — there always is. History is on your side. Meanwhile you’ll be together again, telling her what you want. She’ll have to listen. You can build bridges afterwards; that will only strengthen your hand.

D.A. Prince


Dear Uncle Donald,

Is it necessary for an accountant to wear a necktie? I don’t want clients to think me unprofessional, but I find ties uncomfortable. What do you advise?

Hot Under the Collar


I wear all the best neckties. Everyone says so. People are always always coming up to me and saying, ‘Donald, you’re a very classy guy. How come you always look so good?’ And you know something? They’re right. I do look good. I’m a handsome guy. You wouldn’t know that from reading the fake news. They don’t report that. Not a word. But that’s okay. Who cares what they say? But I am a very classy guy, that I can tell you. The classiest, according to some people — who should know. Maybe the classiest who’s ever been. Who knows? Nobody knows. It just comes natural to me. Donald J. Trump

Max Gutmann


Dear Uncle Mac, My friend Kim J. is the Leader of a very small country, yet his people sit and pay attention when he speaks. I’m the Leader of the most powerful country in the world, but when I speak, people jeer or hiss. How can I stop them? Believe me, yours sincerely, Donald T.


Donald, it sounds as if Kim J. has the status of a hereditary prince, whereas you find yourself in the position of a new prince, needing to establish power and authority in your own country. Although you might prefer to gain the love of your people in a way that respects conventional morality, always remember that fear is more potent than love, and if all else fails, you may need to employ drastic measures. In which case, your friend Kim J. can probably advise you how to have those who disrespect you executed or imprisoned.

Sylvia O. Smith 

No. 3058: Tourist misinformation

You are invited to supply snippets of mischievously/sadistically misleading advice for foreign tourists visiting Britain, or for British ones travelling abroad. Please email entries totalling up to 150 words to by midday on 18 July.