Be­ing an agony aunt has al­ways been a fan­tasy

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION - Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­

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…?

Email me at bmail­bar­

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