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