Being an agony aunt has always been a fantasy
IAM looking forward to seeing Jackie, the Musical, at The Wycombe Swan in May. The show, which is on a UK tour, is based on the girls’ magazine that closed in 1993. The musical tells the story of an ex-reader in her 50s who turns to its 1970s problem pages for advice.
I always fancied having my own page as an agony aunt in the Gazette, but only one person thought that was a good idea. Me.
Thinking about Jackie, I remembered my favourites, Girl and School Friend, which as far as I can remember offered no advice on relationships with boys or how to tell your friend she has BO.
I, and my friends, acted out stories from our comics which usually started with a race to wear my mum’s old wedding dress to be Princess Anita of Sylvanberg, a character from School Friend.
I particularly longed to have my hair like Princess Anita’s – it was a sort of plaited doughnut on the back of her head and was set off by a beautiful tiara which resembled a halo.
In those days, little girls wanted to look angelic rather than raunchy, but I did promise myself I would wear red lipstick, pierce my ears and dye my hair as soon as possible. Which I did.
I had never met a real agony aunt until recently. While at the ITV studios with Phyllis Whitsell, who was promoting her book Finding Tipperary Mary (which I helped her with), we bumped into Denise Robertson.
I always thought she seemed a bit fierce on This Morning, but she was lovely and, off-screen, reassured Phyllis that she did the right thing, looking after her mother for many years without telling her she was her daughter.
While on the subject, thank you to all the many readers who turned up to Phyllis’s first book signing at Waterstones, in Uxbridge. Also the members of CAMEO in Harefield who invited me to talk about the book and read from it – even though I left some with tears in their eyes (I hope from the funny, as well as sad, moments).
I’ve just heard that the book has entered the Sunday Times bestsellers list so I concede that Phyllis deserves the wedding dress/ Anita moment.
I suppose that doesn’t give me an excuse to wear a tiara…?
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