PILLOWTALK

The TV pre­sen­ter and co­me­dian ad­vises read­ers as a Week­end agony aunt

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Wellbeing - Gra­ham Nor­ton

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to. Let­ters will be an­swered only through

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ofCham­pagne. Dear Gra­ham What do you do if you have a peep­ing tom? The other day I was do­ing my iron­ing in my undies and, to my ut­ter hor­ror, spot­ted a man in the build­ing op­po­site look­ing at me through a pair of gi­ant binoc­u­lars — the sort you’d see on a Benny Hill pro­gramme. I felt sick and dis­gusted and closed the cur­tains im­me­di­ately, then rang the po­lice. They ar­rived within min­utes and were very help­ful and sym­pa­thetic. They rang the bell of the flat op­po­site, but were told by the Por­tuguese wo­man who opened the door that they must have the wrong flat — no man lived there.

Imag­ine my dis­may when, last week­end, I was spied on again. This time the man was point­ing an enor­mous video cam­era di­rectly at my bed­room win­dow. My daugh­ter says he’s prob­a­bly plan­ning to launch me on YouTube. It seems there is noth­ing I can do to stop this odi­ous man, short of con­fronting him my­self. I am too em­bar­rassed to call the po­lice again.

I am not, as you might think, a nu­bile beauty who prances about in Agent Provo­ca­teur, but an over­weight 53-yearold house­wife with vari­cose veins. My ad­mirer is at least 70, bug-eyed and earth­shat­ter­ingly ugly.

Cyn­thia J, Ed­in­burgh Dear Cyn­thia This is how you deal with a peep­ing tom: stop wan­der­ing around your flat in a bra and knick­ers with the cur­tains open and he’ll get bored and train his sights on some­one else’s win­dow. Given that you are 53, I’m slightly sur­prised that you haven’t fig­ured out what cur­tains are for or learnt that stand­ing around in your un­der­wear in full view of your neigh­bours isn’t re­ally the done thing.

Part of me sus­pects that you may en­joy all the at­ten­tion. I no­tice his binoc­u­lars were “gi­ant” and his video cam­era was “enor­mous”. I won­der if you don’t re­ally want any ad­vice at all, but just en­joy retelling the story in all its gory de­tail ( did we re­ally need to know about your veins?). Your out­rage can scarcely mask your thinly dis­guised de­light.

In­vest in a dress­ing­gown, Cyn­thia, and spare a thought for the poor Por­tuguese wo­man who has a man break into her flat on a reg­u­lar ba­sis just to get a bet­ter view of your wob­bly bits. Dear Gra­ham My hus­band and I have sep­a­rated, but we’re still liv­ing to­gether be­cause we can­not sell our house in Ful­ham. It’s an ig­no­min­ious po­si­tion, with both of us creep­ing about, try­ing not to have yet an­other row.

I won­der if you can of­fer any ad­vice on how to cope with this aw­ful sit­u­a­tion? Nei­ther of us can af­ford to move out un­til we sell the house. We have a son, but he’s away at board­ing school, so we have un­til the Easter hol­i­days to sort some­thing out.

I am the so-called “guilty party”, al­though I was never un­faith­ful to my hus­band. The slow drip-drip of mar­i­tal mis­ery (11 years) fi­nally made me re­alise I’d be bet­ter off on my own.

Linda M, south-west Lon­don Dear Linda What a hideous predica­ment. I re­ally don’t want to sug­gest ways of mak­ing it eas­ier for you to cope be­cause only one thing needs to hap­pen — it has to stop. I know money is im­por­tant, but maybe you should knock just a cou­ple of thou­sand off the price. Any prof­its lost should be off­set against the huge emo­tional cost of let­ting this drag on.

Be­cause you ended the mar­riage, per­haps you are re­luc­tant to sug­gest such a rad­i­cal move. But your ex-hus­band must be in hell too, un­less, of course, he thinks that as long as you have the house there is the pos­si­bil­ity of the two of you get­ting back to­gether. Make sure he is as keen to sell as you are.

Do you have any friends you could stay with for a max­i­mum of six months? I think it is im­por­tant for the men­tal health of both of you to get out of this sit­u­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble. Re­mem­ber this will end. Your life will get bet­ter and hap­pi­ness will be yours once more. Good luck. Dear Gra­ham My ca­reer is on the skids and I’m not even a proper mother. Tech­ni­cally, I’m back at work (as a bar­ris­ter), but I’ve got hardly any work at the mo­ment. I feel guilty all the time that (a) I’m not at home look­ing af­ter my one-year-old and (b) I’m em­ploy­ing a full­time nanny I can’t af­ford.

My hus­band’s salary isn’t enough to cover our monthly out­go­ings and al­ready I’ve had to dip into my sav­ings to hide how lit­tle I’m earn­ing. My av­er­age work­ing day is spent sit­ting in Star­bucks around the cor­ner from my cham­bers, star­ing out of the win­dow.

The guilt is dread­ful. When I’m away from my child, I feel I should be do­ing vir­tu­ous things such as earn­ing money, rather than read­ing Vogue and drink­ing skinny cap­puc­ci­nos. But I’m am­bi­tious and know I just couldn’t cope with be­ing a full-time mother.

Please don’t tell me to talk to my hus­band — he’s des­per­ate for me to give up work. Dear Eleanor What is go­ing on in your head? You are too am­bi­tious to con­tem­plate be­ing a full­time mother but you are con­tent to drink cof­fee and flick through mag­a­zines all day? There are re­cep­tion­ists at funeral homes with more get up and go than you.

Think about what you are do­ing. You’re not spend­ing time with your child when you could be, you are ly­ing to your hus­band and you are wast­ing time and money. I hope your fam­ily can bounce back from this weird lie you are liv­ing.

The bot­tom line is you need a new job. Start look­ing. Al­though you don’t want to, you must con­fess to your hus­band the re­al­ity of your daily sched­ule. Once he knows what’s go­ing on, you can work to­gether to sort things out. Keep­ing it all bot­tled up will only make mat­ters worse. He can’t force you out of the job mar­ket, es­pe­cially since you say you can’t af­ford not to work.

You have been an id­iot, but it’s not too late to wise up. At this point, it’s no longer about hav­ing a ca­reer but sim­ply putting a value on your time. Not be­ing paid much is bet­ter than earn­ing noth­ing, and when you get home you can en­joy your baby and hus­band with­out feel­ing guilty.

Just a thought, but if your kid is cute maybe it could do some so that at least some­one will be bring­ing home the ba­con.

Eleanor B, Lon­don

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