Agony Andy

BBC Radio 1
The Janice Long Show

Andy's advice to the lovelorn, the pimply, and the strange. . .

Dramatis Personae
Andy Partridge (AP)
Janice Long, the kindly host (JL)
Various barnyard animals

Episode One

(Theme music - piano and a doleful female voice singing "Agony-y-y-y" over and over)

JL: And now fresh from the country where the buffalo roam, from the wilds of Wiltshire, Agony Andy. If you have a problem that you can't talk to your best friend about, normally a problem shared (chicken squawk sound effect in background) is a problem halved (more squawking), but with Andy's advice, things can only get worse. Andy Partridge, welcome. What is the chicken doing here?

AP: He's a sheep! He'll be all right. . .

JL: You always come complete with fowl, do you?

AP (laughing): I always come complete with all sorts of terrible odors, yes.

JL: Can I shoo it out? Get out!

AP: Awww, poor barney. Right, give me that first problem, Janice, let's see who we can sort out today.

JL: I wonder. This is from a lady called Sheila in Rotherham and she says, "Dear Andy, I'm an over-endowed fourteen-year-old girl, and my friends keep laughing at me and calling me Dolly Parton. The problem is, my mother says I'm too young to wear a bra. How would you handle this?"

AP: (laughs lasciviously) How would I - well, I'd stand about four feet away with one of those strange sort of orthopedic robot-type arms they pick litter up with and just give them a gentle - ahem! Well, Roger, this stinks of wind-up to me, I mean, being the first letter and all that. . . Well, I was just actually thinking about breasts in general, I mean, aren't breasts strange? Fellows, have you ever thought what it would be like to have breasts? Imagine two carrier bags filled with jelly sello-taped to your chest. Run around with those for a day and then tell me that it's not fun. Uh, this one smells of wind-up, I'll pass on quickly.

JL (laughing): The next one comes from Pete, who's in Sheffield, and he says, "Dear Andy, I'm seventeen and three quarters and I have very strict parents. They won't let me watch telly after nine o'clock because they say I'm not an adult yet, and won't let me choose my own clothes, and my mother dresses me like a child. I'm not allowed to go out as well. And to top it all, my mother has written to the headmaster at my school, which is mixed, to say that she doesn't want me to have sex education in case it gives me ideas. What can I do?"

AP: Good grief! This is a terrible one. Well, what is there to sex education, it's all swelling, in-out, swelling, (pop!), swelling, in-out, swelling, (pop!) - nothing much to sex education at all. Buy yourself a bike shed, you'll learn all you want with a bike shed, that's the way I did it. Um, generally, I think your parents are pretty perverted - and in a MIXED SCHOOL in this day and age! Filth! And dressing you like a child, we-e-ell, we all know about those sort of parents. Uh, basically I'm posting a revolver and a handful of bullets, to either off them or yourself. I'll leave you the choice.

JL: We have two heavier problems in a moment, but while you get your head together and they get their heads together, this is Fatal Charm . . .

(Music break)

JL: Fatal Charm and "Summer Spies." With me, Agony Andy, answering your problems all this evenings, all the problems of my friends. . . (laughs) Andy! This is a very simple problem, apparently, it's from a guy called Barry -

AP: A very simple guy.

JL: A very simple problem and he's a very simple guy. Two lines - it says, "How do I chat up girls, what are the right lines to say, and how should I dress?"

AP: Good grief! Well, that's an absolutely loaded letter. Well, for a start, what do you tell 'em? What do you tell girls? Oh, fib a little, tell 'em you're stinking rich, that always helps. Take her in your arms - be bold, take the girl in your arms, and tell her you have a passionate desire to spend all of your dole on her! All of it! Every penny! In this sort of world, flattery will get you everywhere, you mustn't believe what they tell you - people love to be flattered. But, just to make your way with girls, you have to be generally sort of complimentary - compliment them on their appearance. Try to find something nice, even if they're not perfect - I mean, if she's got a wooden leg, be nice! Tell her what a nice shade of varnish it is on the leg! You got to be positive! If she's wearing glasses, don't make a thing of it, just offer to buff them up for her on the leg of your cotten underpants! Be nice to girls, you've got to make your way, you got to. . . I mean, where you take them's very important, while you're chatting them up - generally I've found - don't go to a disco, because you can't be cozy and romantic spinning on your head, can you? I mean, it's not really - or, a candlelit intimate Motorhead concert for two, that's absolutely right out, not unless you're into sign language, so do bear this in mind. Barry does actually say "How shall I dress?" I assume he's obviously thinking of these occasions. All I can think of is, really casual - do remember that - try and go for girls with bad eyesight 'cos they don't know what you're wearing, first of all, so find those. Generally, don't be extreme or clever - you can leave your trousers you made from Wheetabix stapled together, leave them at home, and don't wear your "Idi Amin Says Relax" T-shirt, because that's out the window, but I've found that, through my years of experience, girls don't like armor, so that's right out, but do just be casual, so there we are, Barry, I hope that we've answered some of your problems.

JL: What is a good opening line, though?

AP: Pardon?

JL: What is a good opening line for him - I mean, the girl of his dreams has stunned him there, wherever, Euston Station -

AP: Well, don't do the one - if it's in a dancehall, don't do the famous "Would you like to dance?" and then she says "Yes" and you say "Great, 'cos I'm just dying to sit down." Don't do that one.

JL: Do you have a favorite line yourself?

AP: I usually punch them to the ground and spend the rest of my life apologizing.

JL: You rough and masterful. . . A serious lad is Mike from Woolich, very serious. "Dear Andy: I'm a shy eighteen-year-old boy, my friends tell me I'm reasonably good-looking, I like going to discos and meeting girls, I pluck up courage to chat girls up and ask them out, but after the first date, they never want to see me again. I buy them drinks and flowers, see them home and tell them how beautiful they are, and how much I love them. I'm even honest with them about the future, about how many children I would like, and how I'm saving for a deposit on a house. But they never want to see me again. What can I do? Will I ever find the girl for me?"

AP: Ohhh, what a sad letter, give me that letter, Janice. Well, basically, Mike of Woolich - I think he's Mike of Woolich, he's either that or Mike Woolich, which really spoils the anonymity a little - um, let's go through your letter. "I'm a shy eighteen-year-old boy." I mean, weren't we all? Or weren't fifty percent of us at one time? I used to be terribly shy, until I did my first thirteen or fourteen murders, and then I was so out-going, so don't worry about that at all, Mike. "My friends tell me I'm reasonably good-looking." Well, one, get rid of your mates. I mean, they're obviously liars, aren't they? Anybody that tells you you're good-looking, get rid of them, they're liars. "I like going to discos and meeting girls. I pluck up courage to chat girls and ask them out, but after the first date they never want to see me again. I buy them drinks, flowers, see them home, tell them how beautiful they are," blah blah blah, and it goes on to - saving a deposit for a house! Generally this is a little too serious, Mike, it's too planned. The way that thing's going, if this is the way you carry with girls - you might as well ask them what color rubber stopper they'd like on their walking sticks when they're eighty, or does she prefer satin or lace trim on the inside of her coffin. I mean, it tends to project to far into the future. Cyndi Lauper had it right, Cyndi Lauper says "Girls just want to have fun," and that's basically - I must tell you a quick Cyndi Lauper tale, because this is quite true, I'm not messing about here. The other night, about twelve o'clock at night, I was just thinking of going to bed, and there came a knock at the door, and the dog was barking, so I went to the door, opened it coyly, looking out was this enormous fellow, and he had - he didn't quite look - a few pence short of a pound, actually, but he had a girl's jumper on - this is quite true, don't giggle - he had a girl's jumper on and he had "Cyndi Lauper" written on this jumper in what looked to be felt pen. And he just looked at me rather blankly - and this is quite truthful - he said (yokel accent) "Does Cyndi live 'ere?" And I just had to say (bemused) "No. I think you've got the wrong house." But still, that's my Cyndi Lauper story, I'm sure everyone's got one. Back to Mike of Woolich - um, you've got to be masculine, I mean, girls want to have fun - you've got to be masculine. Get them to leap into your car - get a masculine car, like a Reliant Robin, they're very masculine, or those invalid cars, the little blue ones, why should invalids have all the fun? Get one of those, they're great. Go round to your local - you know, wherever you are, the Pedophile and Wah-Wah, whatever your local is (JL giggles wildly) - have a nice romantic, quiet twelve pints of stout and Lucozade. Take her off to a fun exhibition, say - that one at the ICA, that one that's on at the moment, what is it, "Romanian Tractor Registration Plates Between 34 to 37," that's the sort of fun that girls want to have these days. Show her your collection of cheese labels, or that big display case full of Finnish gravel that your uncle sent you! Make it fun, you've got to make it fun with girls! Generally, Mike, you're too serious, you've got to relax, lad.

JL: Can I ask you what your credentials are? Why you as an agony uncle?

AP: I'm actually possibly the last choice of anybody in the world, because people never - friends never bring their problems to me, because I just extract the urine immediately, so this is a way of breaking the ice for me, this is something I've never tried.

JL: Well, all of those problems tonight were from friends of mine who wrote to me-

AP (scolding): Janice! Janice! You've fibbed to me!

JL: I thought I would pass it on to Agony Andy, but I'm sure loads of people have got problems that you could answer in the wonderful way that you've managed to do it this evening.

AP: Well, please, reach down and grab yourself by the biro, and write in.

JL: And the address is Agony Andy, the Janice Long Show, Radio One, London W1A 4WW. Before you go, I have got this problem, I wonder if you could just come over here. . . (Fade)

Episode Two

(Doleful theme music, with donkey braying)

JL: Fresh from the country, with a donkey under his arm, it's the return of Agony Andy, Britain's only agony uncle. What's the donkey for?

AP: Is that a donkey under your arm or are you just pleased to see me? (JL laughs) You know, you've scared him, you said "hamburgers" to him, so. . . he's petrified.

JL: Absolutely terrified.

AP: "French restaurant." Sounds scary.

JL: We've had loads and loads of letters in for you.

AP: I've seen in the corridor there are five - envelopes! I've collected them all. . .

JL: You're becoming a cult figure, people keep ringing me up and asking me about you.

AP: I've been called worse.

JL (laughing): Well, you'll be pleased to know that none of the problems are trivial in today's letters. So can we start with a - this is a really dead serious complaint, it is, this is heavy -

AP: Dead serious, yes.

JL: Tony in Bournemouth, who says, "Dear Agony Andy, my problem is serious and getting progressively worse. I appear to be suffering from Zappa-itis. The symptoms started when a small triangular growth appeared under my nose. I now have an uncontrollable urge to phone people in the middle of the night and go on for hours and hours about muffins, pumpkins, and other bizarre and abnormal objects. If I try this face to face, it usually results in lots of eye-rolling and yawning, followed shortly by complete silence. Does my affiliation to Mr. Zappa have to have this result? Or are there others like me so we can form a self-help group? I wrote to you especially, as I know you once suffered from Beefheart Syndrome, which I now have overcome to a degree, although I still occasionally can be heard to moan 'Fast and bulbous!' on a clear night. Please advise me as to what I can do."

AP: Well! It sounds like you made this one up, but I assure you she hasn't, there's some loony called Tony in Bournemouth - they all live there, don't they? Well, this is one of a pair of musical ones that we had in this week. All I've got to say to Tony is, are you sure it's Zappa-itis, which is, as everybody knows, listening to far too much American rock composer Frank Zappa - or is it in fact Zapata-titis, which is the desire to wear a sombrero and subjugate Mexican peasants to unpleasantries far worse than anything from "Sale of the Century." He mentions in his letter that the triangular growth under the nose - well, this triangular growth, in fact, gives no indication as to whether it's Zappa-itis, because both of these characters had large black mustaches, unless of course Tony's triangular growth is something like a kite or something, in which case you can ring the Guinness Book of Records immediately, because they're very interested in you. Uh, a self-help group is a very bad idea, because you'll just end up helping yourself some more Zappa, so don't do that. I think the answer, really, Tony, is to expose yourself to Bananarama. In your own time, when you like. Try and get your hands on Sade's 45's, and juggle your musical tastes until you have a more balanced musical diet. This is the only way you're going to get out of this Zappa-itis, you're basically having too much of a good thing, Tony.

JL (giggling): I have a problem now. Is it mus-TAHCHE or is it mus-TACHE?

AP: Oooh! You said you wouldn't say that one!

JL (laughing): Right, this one. It's from Janet, who's in Ramsbottom Gardens, and I think her problem is her address, actually, in Ramsbottom - anyway, she says, "Dear Andy, I came home last Wednesday night unexpectedly, and I found my husband sat in the living room wearing one of my dresses and my best tights, and he was listening to his old Deep Purple records. I haven't slept a wink since. I'm really desperate! What can I do to cure him of this disgusting habit? Janet."

AP: Well! Eh - uh - I think this is - she's right, this is absolutely disgusting, I think it's terrible, and typical of men, and I think the best way to make sure that this doesn't happen again is to lock away your best tights and make him wear old ones! Or buy his own. I mean, this typical male chauvinist attitude, they will wear their wife's tights, and I think that's terrible, men should buy their own. You don't have to see him dressed like this, I wouldn't stand for it. Have a brisk wash and a shave and light your pipe and go for a swift twelve pints with the lads down at the Rugby Club bar, that should put things straight. It must be worrying, all this sort of transvestism - you say you haven't slept, well, I should join your husband in the living room and listen to his Deep Purple records with him, and if Deep Purple have the same effect on you as they do on most people, you'll be snoring in no time.

JL (giggling): More problems in a moment. This is Alison Moyet, "All Cried Out."

(Music break)

JL: Alison Moyet and "All Cried Out." Now, we have to be terribly serious now, Agony Andy -

AP: Can I just say, they've given me a new mike this week, and I've always wanted to do this, 'cos it's a great new mike, this one - (creepy American announcer voice) "Aftershave for Men, possibly the most disgusting lager in the world."

JL: It's brilliant!

AP: It's good, isn't it?

JL: Right, you've got to be terribly sensitive -

AP: No, I'm sorry. . .

JL: - so you can handle these terribly sensitive - with a great deal of awareness.

AP: Immensely serious.

JL: Right. You sitting comfortably?

AP: No, it's a horrible chair. . .

JL: You're supposed to say yes! Say yes! (AP protests) Just say yes!

AP: Ohh. . . (exasperated) YES.

JL: Here's one from Dave of Glasgow, and I'm not going to do my Scottish accent. "Dear Agony Andy, I'm a thirty year old male, white, I'm a founder and head of my own company, a thriving multi-national concern. My mistresses love me fiercely, and our children hold me in wide-eyed adulation. Governments look to me for advice. My presence is sought in the finest homes. The most lavish parties demand my attendance. I have domiciles in New York and two European capitals, and maintain yachts in two more. My personal wealth is enormous. My problem is this: is that all there is to life?"

AP: (snoring sound, sighs) Well, thank you, Dave, for writing an immensely serious letter. Well, Dave - he has written in confidence, and that's the sort of confidence that we won't break, you know, we're not going to tell people that it is in fact Dave Clark of Flat 3, 13 Lawrence Street, Glasgow, G11, call evenings as he's out most of the day. This letter sounds like Richard Branson's written in, 'cos he's the only one with all those things I can think of that fit the bill. First of all, I'd like to say - "MISTRESSES"?? With an S! Well! It says here - he's obviously got problems, because it says "governments look to me for advice," that explains why Britain's in such a mess, because they've been asking him - and he's writing letters like this. "My presence is sought in the finest homes"? (American accent) So's toilet paper, buddy! Don't let it go to your head. He says "I own domiciles in New York" - well, if he wants to waste his money on camels that's OK by him, but - Basically, Dave, I think you need to suffer, you've got to see the struggling side of life. If you send me a stamped addressed envelope - (furtively) and about £40,000, I think you can afford that - I'll send you my own special brochure, "Down and Out is In," full of wonderful, crucial info, such as what shade of cardboard is a must to wear for your next night on a park bench, drinking the paint stripper with the "By Appointment to Her Majesty" emblem on it - of course, only if the jam jar is unchipped. . . where to meet female dossers and down-and-outs, to get together with them by the romantic glow of the nearest U.S. Air Force base - the sociable act of quaffing cans of lighter fuel and hedgehog phlegm that dossers do so well. Um, I think I can show you how to suffer by saying things that'll make you hated - phrases like, "Hello, I'm a traffic warden," or "I think Arthur Scargill's wonderful!" Perhaps it's a sort of spiritual guidance that Dave's after. In fact, I can recommend that he join one of these religious sects that have sprung up lately, like the Church of Christ the Double-Glazing Salesman, or Gary's Witnesses, or the Followers of the Reverend Dennis Kinky and the Rexham Cathedral of Rubber - their catchphrase for youth today, "A smile, a psalm, and an inflatable harvest festival." Well, it sounds, Dave, if you - again, another one who's had too much of a good thing, and I think you need to suffer more, so I'm going to send you a year's free supply of instant pot lunches.

JL (laughing): Well, now a very serious problem, one we can all sympathize with, I'm sure. This letter comes from one of my DJ colleagues who wants to remain anonymous, so let's just call him Steve - that's right! His problem is his nose. Now, he thinks it's too big, and he says, "I have trouble in crowded places, especially the Tube, where I actually get my nose caught in the doors a couple of times. I always get my nose tangled up in the ticket fellow's window, and often get charged double fare. Driving a car's no better, except that I can steer with my nose while thumbing through my catchphrase book. Three times I've been mistaken for Barry Manilow - ugh! - with the hideous ordeal of having your clothes ripped off you by marauding mums. Sometimes people think I'm Jewish [gasp! - ed] and start rapping in Hebrew. I wear glasses and a mustache to take people's attention away from my awful hooter, but everyone says it's sexy. I'm so worried about my nose and too frightened to think of cosmetic surgery. Oh Andy, please help me - A Well-Wisher.

AP: Well! What can I say? Steve - Pinocchio! (guffaws) Conk-cord! It must be terrible having a big nose. I must admit, I do share your apprehension about professional cosmetic surgery, but dear! You can of course do it yourself these days! Try my tip - gently pummel your proboscis with a four-pound meat-tenderizing mallet until it has a sort of soft, pliable feel, like i.e. no bones left. Then, taking a jelly mold of your choice - bunny rabbit, chuffer train - sort of pour your nasal organ into the mold, and sello-tape the whole thing up to your face. Next morning - voila! A fun-shaped hooter! Um, just one thing - Steve, you're not actually a Royal writing in under another - no, no, of course you wouldn't be. I must admit, Steve, it puzzles me what woman can find a nose this big sexy, I mean, who are we talking about, Nellie the elephant? I think surgery is actually going to be your only hope, Steve, but if you can't afford a private operation, and want to demonstrate about the price of medical attention in general, take yourself and your nose down to the hospital gates - and picket.

JL (laughing): Oh, God!

AP (evilly): I thought he deserved that.

JL: Have you got one more there?

AP: I've got a little quickie here - um, this is a quickie for a girl called Jackie [or boy? - ed], she says her boyfriend gets his tongue caught in her teeth brace when they kiss good-night. Well, remember, kissing isn't the only pleasure that young folks can share, and think of the fun you could have if your boyfriend bought a magnet! So, thank you, Jackie.

JL: Oh, very nicely done, and very sensitive. Thank you very much indeed, Agony Andy. Don't forget, send us your letters, nothing too trivial please, and the address is Agony Andy, Janice Long show, BBC Radio One, London W1A 4WW. Heart-rending problems this week.

AP: Heart-rending! I'm rent. My heart - see, look - there it is, it's rent.

Episode Three

("This World Over" fades into doleful theme music, punctuated with mooing)

JL: Welcome to our fortnightly series, with Agony Andy, the only agony uncle in the country. And before we start sorting out other people's problems, can I just - (giggles) - where's the cow from, first of all?

AP: Don't be so rude, it's actually an enormous caddisfly called (more mooing) - get off! It's an enormous caddisfly called Craig! Bad Craig! He's a little schizophrenic but I've got to keep him on because I need the milk. Well, there's been a flood of letter -

JL: Ah! Before you start, congratulations! You're going to be a daddy.

AP (sounding abashed): That's right.

JL: Well done.

AP (subdued): I've learned how to do it. How to become a daddy.

JL: Well, as you say, everything works if you woggle it.

AP: That's right! (laughs) I just said the headphones were faulty in here and I've been woggling, so we've been sat woggling before we come on. Yes, there's been an incredible flood of letter this week - some very long ones. So you're all a rash of budding Tolstoys out there. This sort of thing builds week by week into something you wish you'd never started, so listeners, do try to keep problems down to one or two volumes each time. Right, off with the first problem, please, Aunty Jan.

JL: Thank you. It's Gormless, or otherwise known as N.Y. Mmmphomaniac, who is in Warwickshire, and N.Y. Mmmphomanic says, "Dear Agony Andy, please help me. I've nowhere else to turn to. I'm stricken with grief, guilt, the gormless idiot who calls himself my brother. What can I do? I'm so desperate! No-one else can do anything for me. That's why I've written to you, in the hope that you, the king of the agony uncles, the only agony uncle, can perhaps aid me in some small way. Is it too much to ask? Would it eat into your valuable time? Would it keep you from 'Brookside'? Please, please, please read this letter and consider my problem."

AP: Well, N.Y., I do sympathize with N.Y., it must be annoying having a go-o-ormless brother - go-o-ormless people, they are annoying anywhere. That's a great word, that go-o-ormless, it sort of hints that normal people have a lot of gorm with them! In any case - have you ever noticed how, when you stop the car to ask somebody the way, they're inevitablygo-o-ormless - go-o-ormless people spend all day loitering on street corners obviously, waiting to be asked for directions to somewhere, then when you spend about twenty minutes um-ing and ahh-ing with them - they never tell you at the start that they don't know where it is. You can always tell 'em as well - go-o-ormless people - the Starsky and Hutch jumpers, the ludicrously short brown flares, the tiny transistor radio with the medical-looking hearing-aid type plastic plug shoved in their ear (JL is in quiet hysterics) and the permanently hanging lower jaw. Gormless people have perfected the art of eating and talking without ever closing their mouths, once! I'm actually surprised that there are any insects left in Britain at all, because they just cruise the streets, jaw hanging down, scooping these insects in about a hundred ways. So, basically, the solution for N.Y. is, in all best solutions in life, a very simple one: Have him shot.

JL: (still in hysterics)

AP: I'm not mucking about this week. Have him shot, N.Y.

JL: Are you offering to do it?

AP: Ah, my aim is dreadful.

JL: Samantha in London, can you cope with her?

AP: Let's try Samantha's problem.

JL: "Dear Andy: My problem is that I've met a boy who's twenty and I'm eighteen. He explained that he doesn't want to get tied down, meaning that he doesn't want to keep having to make a 'date' all the time. The thing is, that I've gone out with him twice since I met him, but he's never planned them. On both occasions, I've gone round to his house to see his mum. He also says he has to get to know someone before taking them out regularly. I can't stand him saying that, but say if he meets someone else, that means I'm just being used. He's really confusing me. He's caring, he's gentle, he has everything I've ever wanted from a bloke, and I wouldn't be bothered if it wasn't that I care for him so much, but I don't know whether I shall be hurt in the end. Do you think it's worth it?"

AP: (sniffling and sobbing noises) Well, Samantha, I think he's toying with you. You must play the same game with him. Tell him occasionally that you can't see him, as you're having the evening in to wash your excess elbow skin. (JL laughs) Or turn up on a date with someone else in tow - like the crew of a Spanish submarine or something like that. Insist he take you to an expensive restaurant, and then once inside, suck the gravy stain from the edge of the tablecloth and say (falsetto) "I knew we shouldn't have ordered those fourteen courses because now I'm rather full." I'll tell you what, Samantha, if he was my boyfriend - I'd have him shot. Uh, see previous letter. (confiding) Do you know, Janice, there's nothing to this problem slot, it's very easy - just have them all shot!

JL: Put 'em up against a brick wall and shoot 'em! I think this describes Samantha's problem.

(Music break)

(AP mutters something, JL giggles. .)

JL: Ultravox, and "Love's Great Adventure." Agony Andy is here. This is your third problem this evening, I don't know if you can cope with this one. "Please help me, Andy, you're the only one I can trust," says Unrequited of Basingstoke. "I've fallen in love with a young punkette, and over the last few months have got to know her very well. We used to compare the size of our beer guts. I used to twiddle the earring in her nose. She use to laugh at my guitar playing. But now, disaster has struck. There's another man in her life. He's a big, bronzed biker. Good-looking, and a real lady-killer. The other night I went into her local to find her in his arms, kissing, cuddling, and doing all the things I wanted to. What shall I do? I've tried drinking a bottle of whiskey and smoking thirty fags a day, but all I did was throw up over the dog. Should I a) say good-bye to this cruel world, b) improve my guitar-playing, have a number-one hit, and make her feel really jealous because she's missed out, or c) go out with her friend, who's not at all bad-looking, really."

AP: Well, Unrequited of Basingstoke - a great name, that is - (silly voice) Mr. Unrequited of Basingstoke - well, he obviously does have a deep psychological problem because he starts his letter with "You are the only one I can trust"!

JL: He does put a question mark.

AP: The fool, the fool. I think a lot of fault lies with the fact that she's a punkette. She's a girl who likes to follow extreme fashion trends. An easy way to impress her would be to start up your own fashion movement. Assert yourself as a leader in a field of one. Become, say, for example, a FISH-ist. Ask your mother to quickly sew together a few turbot or bream into a rough shirt shape, a pair of dashing Oxford bags made from net and decorated liberally with red mullet, would give you that certain aura. And indeed, an attractive Davy Crockett hat knocked up from a hollowed-out sturgeon will top off the whole ensemble nicely. You'll simply knock her off her feet with a stream of dazzling conversation about things like Norway's gross tonnage of herring caught in 1965, or did she know that a halibut can grow as large as a dining room table? Or that a gudgeon has no dress sense whatsoever? Once you've wooed her with enough of this fish-ist chat, how about a wild evening at Billingsgate, where you and her - pre-moistened in brine, of course - can do the latest fish-ist dances, by laying on the floor and flapping and gasping for air, as your ghetto blaster pumps out cassettes of things like, "The Sound of the Stickleback," or "That Moaning Manta Ray"! Make yourself dynamic, Unrequited! Give yourself a sort of a fish-ist name, like (manly American voice) Johnny Lobster, or Fabian Scampi, or Boy Haddock. Will any girl be able to resist your cod liver oil aftershave, your tuna toothpaste? Could she deny you anything when you slip on that ring made from the finest pilchard can the Pakistani corner shop can supply? Uh - this might all sound rather extreme to you, but it's the sort of thing a fellow has to do to attract girls these days - I mean, I know, I've tried it.

JL: And if all else fails, shoot her?

AP (lordly tones): Shoot her, shoot her, I'm not messing about this week. Shoot her.

JL: Sixteen-year-old Claire from Birmingham. "Dear Andy, Please help me. I'm a sixteen-year-old girl who goes to an all-girls school, and I've never had a boyfriend, although I like lots of boys at the boys school near ours. Unfortunately, all of them got to know about it, and none of them like me. They all call me names when they see me, like 'Ugly' and 'Flares.' I'm not very pretty, and I haven't got many fashionable clothes 'cause my mum won't let me, but I do try my best. I feel so unwanted, and I don't think anyone will ever fancy me. Please give me your advice.

AP: Awww. . . What's wrong with flares? All my socks are flared . . First of all, Claire, please, please, dear, I'll do my best little Claire Raynor - (femmy voice) "Please, please lovey" - please, lovey, don't attach too much importance to clothes in alluring the opposite sex. In fact, I know a few chaps who'd be interested in you if you wore nothing at all! Examples in history of people who've haven't relied on clothes for their charm - people like Venus de Milo [pronounced correctly! - ed], although to emulate her je ne sai quois, you'd have to be prepared to lop your arms off just below the shoulders - um, Lady Godiva! I mean - marvellous, Lady Godiva - giving her a Chelsea Girl voucher for Christmas, that'd be a waste of money, wouldn't it? Erica Rhode, the Twickenham Streaker - she'd burst onto our screens looking stunning with only a carefully-placed fag and a brassiere made of a couple of still-warm policeman's helmets. So remember, Claire, clothes aren't everything. Of course, if you are a clothes fanatic and can't afford many things, just try getting your weight down to a Twiggy-like three stone or less, and then you can slip out for the evening in a drinking straw, or keep your chewing gum wrapper to knock yourself a ball-gown up with! No, I think, really, the problem lies in the fact that you attend an all-girls school, and you must make an effort to mix with boys every chance that you get. A good idea would be to go on one of those mixed Outward-Bound type of holidays - you know the sort of thing, a bracing two weeks out on the lower slopes of Cyril Smith! Or a nature ramble in the shade of the Selafield reactor, counting the heads on the sheep, or warming up a tin of soup by the glow of a few locals. I know many a healthy, lasting relationship has sprung up from groups of boys and girls working together on archeological digs - think of the thrill of sifting through the ruins of an ancient two-year-old barrett [?] home, or how marvellous it would be to discover the fossilized remains of somebody who actually owned a Dexy's Midnight Runners LP! Picture yourself in a canoe built for two as you and your fella bravely shoot down the rapids composed of millions upon millions of gallons of utter dribble spoken by politicians in recent years! So do pop along to your local youth club and see if they have any pamphlets on these mixed educational holiday schemes. Finally, Claire, if all else fails and you're not getting on with anybody, and you're generally unpopular, well, you can always become Prime Minister.

JL: (laughs) Andy, thank you very, very much indeed, and if you want to write to him here - what?

AP: Just a quickie before I go -

JL: Pardon?

AP: I must say this - I must have just a quickie before I go - I brought me mop along - but I just want to say to Laurie of London, Tom of Dagenham, and Robert of Nofixtrousers, wherever he is, who have all written in with similar themes, and they're asking me to help them with their addiction to XTC records, all I can say is - (deep, absurd voice) Silly boys! It isn't a problem at all! And if it was, well, I couldn't afford to cure you.

JL: Cheers. The address - Agony Andy, The Janice Long Show, Radio One, London, W1A 4WW.

AP: Until a fortnight's time - remember this: A problem shared is the start of a malicious gossip!

JL (laughing): Andy - take me with you.

Episode Four

Sorry about all the [?]'s in this one - for some reason this tape was especially difficult to make out. Or maybe they were talking faster. I dunno. - ed

(Doleful theme music)

JL: (yokel accent) Arrr! The wild man of Wiltshire returns - the very first agony uncle. Beware of imitations, it will get you nowhere, uh - Agony Andy is back. (sound of dog panting and sniffing) What's that?

AP: God - hang on a minute, Janice (more panting) - I've - brought me pet - me pet bedbug Mussolini - he's here with me somewhere - come on, Il Duce, behave yourself! Ooh, oh, he's all excited, he caught a glimpse of [?]'s beard on the way in and he had no idea that luxury hotels for insects existed, so sit cross-legged, cross-legged, cross-legged, and be quiet. Well! The nation's gone mad again, I've emptied out a sock full of mail this week, so hot off the John Bull printing outfit, the first letter is. . .

JL: OK, from Megs and Migs, who are in York, and it's very very important, this, it says, (yokel accent) "Dear Ooh Arr Agony Uncle Andy, we are two terribly attractive girls with amusing sense of humor, we have fantastic music tastes, as a few years ago we had Depeche Mode on [?], however -" (more panting) - go away -

AP: Shut up and listen.

JL: - "since then, we have gradually become besotted by Dave Gahan (Megs) and Martin Gore (Migs). All we talk about the day when we will marry them and live in Mothercare with them in York. It's a lovely building, you see, and it backs on the River Ouse. We know we are their perfect partners and we tried so many things to get to know them, but all in vain. The closest we got to speaking to them is speaking to Alan Wilder on Peter Powells -" Janice loves his show - "we did touch their hands and David's shoe at a recent concert, but since then we haven't washed as we have their mark on us. That is another of our problems - people won't talk to us anymore. It's because we smell. We're at our wit's end. We know that no other member of the male species will do for us, and without them we will spend the rest of our lives in misery. And what makes it worse is David has been going out with [?] and Martin shares a flat with his German girlfriend. We know they're our destined partners, but how will they know that until they meet us, which may never be? The thought brings tears to our eyes. Please, Andy, help us solve this tragic matter! P.S. Please don't tell us to shoot them, otherwise we'd never again hear the most perfect and inventive music that our lucky lugholes have ever sampled, ever again, and that would definitely lead to our admission to a nearby monastery to become nuns."

AP: Hmmm. Well, these lasses are obviously obsessed with those two ratty little herberts from Depeche Commode - um, all I can say is, girls, please don't pester Dave and Martin because privacy is important in the pop business and - I get pestered a fair amount, Janice, I really do.

JL: You! Why?

AP: I seem to spend half my life hiding down behind the settee while loony Americans or Scandinavians in rucksacks peer through the window - (Swedish accent) - "Is Andy in, dear?" (knocks on table) "Is he in, dear? Come on out, Andy." Did your mum used to pull you down behind the settee when the gypsies knocked?

JL: Yes.

AP: You know - (whispers) "If you let them know we're in, they'll strangle ya!" Tell you what, the gypsies in our neck of the woods had a great system, they'd pick all your flowers as they came up the garden path, then con you into buying them if they caught you in - (falsetto) "Ooh, what a lovely bunch of flowers, and only seven shillings, what a bargain!" Do you know, my mum must have bought our garden back dozens of times without knowing it! Sorry - no, I digress, where were we? Well, there's no harm in wishing, girls - you never know, you might get them - stranger things have happened in history, like the Romans building Hadrian's Wall and Mrs. Reese's kitchen extension, or Noah's Ark finally coming to rest on the tallest insurance building in Norwich, or the baby Moses being found by Pharoah's wife in the Bullring car park. Look - I'm lying, what I'm trying to say is, girls, you don't stand a dog's chance, so just relax and save your love for when you get married to a nice, alcoholic male stripper and live with a cozy family of twenty-seven in his pre-fab in Cardiff, like we all do at some time or another.

JL: (laughing) Mark is in Slough, and he says, "Dear Andy, my life has fallen apart since my girlfriend left me in July of this year. She came home one day and said, 'I've got a chance to go to Jersey to work,' blah-blah-blah-blah, I did not want her to go, blah-blah-blah, I told her to phone as soon as she got there, blah-blah-blah, Jill did not phone, blah-blah-blah, I came home each night to wait by the phone, blah-blah, then in the third week, a letter came, and it said, 'All is over.' My world then fell apart. Blah-blah-blah-blah. I [?] just to pass time, blah-blah-blah, if she came back tomorrow I would have her back, blah-blah-blah, the two of us were the most handsomest of couples, especially me, blah-blah-blah - Andy, give me some advice, blah-blah, my luck is definitely rock-bottom and getting no better with the days going by!"

AP: A very sad letter from Mark, and, I might add, a very long one - I mean, we all know paper comes from trees, I think Mark uses the equivalent of Sherwood Forest to write to us. . . Um, well, if she wants to end it, Mark, forget her. Lose yourself in a hobby like barbed-wire collecting. Think how impressed future girlfriends would be by a display of artificial limbs from all over the Commonwealth, there on your bedroom wall! Or how stunning it would look - an album brimful of all the different types of cotton bud there are. All those pictures of people's bums that nobody claims from the automatic photo booths - yours for the taking, Mark! Think of the thrill of a penpal in Lagos who can fill in all those holes in your collection of Watchtower magazines in next to no time! Yes, it's a man's world, collecting, so forget her, Mark! In fact, forget girls altogether! Join a professional football team, have your hair permed, and hug and kiss other men all you want, and nobody minds!

(Music break)

JL: [?] that, Agony Andy, 'cause I really like it.

AP: I'm polishing my watch in time to that one. A marvellous piece of watch-polishing music.

JL: Shall we carry on?

AP: Carry on.

JL: Let's carry on. Uh - Amanda Rose Warmsley, who's from Wimbledon, she says, "Dear Andy, please help me. I really need your help. I've no sense of style. People laugh at me because I wear flares, flowery shirts, really old-fashioned shoes, and tight tops. To give a clear description of me, I look like an overdone hippie. I wonder if my fiancee is right in the head because he's still going out with me.... My sister Maude is really stylish, and we look so odd walking down the street together. I'm so embarrassed. Even the paper's old-fashioned. Help!"

AP: (laughing) Even the paper's old-fashioned. Well, it's certainly unusual - a roll of perforations and "now please wash your hands" across the top - how quaint! Uh - I must admit, Janice, we do get a lot of letters about clothes and fashion, and the word that crops up the most is "flares" - kids are besotted with with flares! I'll confess - I'll come clean - I used to wear flares. Up until about 1974, flares - me - flares. Do you know, I had the most dreadful pairs - I had a fluorescent yellow loonsewer [?] - they were sort of electric canary color. When I put them on, I looked like someone with his head sticking out the top of a lit-up army tent. It's true! I'm not giving you any of the old [?], it's all true. The worst pair I owned were made of maroon-colored material with 3-D flockafleh - flock effect! I'll say that again - 3-D flock effect fleur-de-lys patterns on them. I actually looked like a mobile Indian restaurant as I breezed along the street. (Neil the hippie voice) Here he comes, the council's best friend. . . The council loved me, 'cause wherever I went, I'd be sweeping aside all the wastepaper and dog cack with me big flares. Yes - don't let this flares fear get to you, Amanda. The time to start sweat - the time to start fretting and sweating is if your legs swell up at the bottom to fill 'em out. Um, you do mention flowery shirts - now, I've got a couple of those - the thing is with flowery shirts, you can achieve one of two effects, you can wear them with a sort of blase devil-may-care attitude and look pretty cool, like, say, Morrissey from the Smiths, or you can look like me if you're not careful, which is something akin to a tramp having a bad night's sleep under torn-out pages of a seed catalogue, or, as I put on more weight, people tell me I remind them of a weed-infested [?]. So, I think you and I should give our flowery shirts a miss, Amanda. Um, really, you're asking the wrong man about fashion advice - me, winner two years of the Les Dawson Dress Sense Award - uh, you haven't got it good, have you? You get embarrassed easily, no dress sense. I think what you've got to do is go for a lifestyle. Choose a lifestyle, something that's going to suit you - you do have, actually, all the credentials needed to lead the STP, I don't know whether you've thought of that - perhaps a job as a replacement mummy in the British Museum would suit you - this employment does offer a free outfit, which actually sounds better than what you're used to wearing. But if you really get stuck, Amanda, I heard the Ministry of Defense are looking for people like you to model for shrapnel.

JL: (laughing) Final one is from a guy who is an Andrew Ridgeley lookalike -

AP: Oh, poor fellow!

JL: - after the nose job. It's "Yours distressed, Steve," who says, "Dear Agony Andy, There's a boy in my class at school who's incredibly handsome -" and I'm supposed to cover my ears here, because apparently he is "six foot two, he has short cropped hair, bright ginger, natural, not dyed, big ears, a massive nose, millions of freckles, and a funny walk." Ah, Steve, that does not make me go weak at the knees. "My problem is, I am very jealous of the way he looks. Out of school he wears a hand-knitted, thick and green, holey jumper, flared faded jeans, with night socks and school shoes. He has girls of every shape and description chasing him down the street, trying to tear pieces of his clothing for their scrapbooks. I am just a humble Andrew Ridgeley lookalike with regrets. Many of my friends at school agree that they would do anything to look like John. My only option is cosmetic surgery, but like Steve Wright, I have my doubts about it. I am not a success with the girls, and I'm desperate to look like super-hunk John."

AP: Modest lad, isn't he? Perhaps he looks like the bit they cut off of Andrew Ridgeley's nose. Um, Steve, I feel sorry for you, I mean, being handsome can be a terrible drawback, and it's obvious that most of the girls in the school really go for this apparent wreck John. Um, there are a few simple steps you can take to put yourself on a par with this popular fellow. Don't worry if you can't afford a fortnight at the Sid Vicious Ill Health Farm, try Uncle Andy's tips instead. First, the posture. Every chance you get, Steve, try to stand with your chin in your navel. A few weeks of this and you'll have that all-important question mark shape. Next, the bum. Forget all this nonsense about girls going for a neat, small, male rear - take it from me, what really turns 'em on is a vast, puffy bottom!

JL: Yeah!

AP: You know, great shards of cellulite hanging down. So, stand by the mirror in your Y-fronts, and if your bum looks like a string bag full of oranges, you're halfway there. They do say, Steve, that clothes maketh the man, so get yourself down to mannish Oxfam, where you can pick up a classic wardrobe, comprising of a pair of lime and mustard denim oxford bags, with printed-on giant white stitching to enhance the fake patchwork effect. And from the bottom of the wire bin of odd socks, perhaps one of those groovy ground brown nylon cravats that always come up smelling of old person's earwax. While you're in there, treat your feet to a pair of stack-heeled shoes with a lightning flash down the side, gently caked in cement where they went from a building site straight to a wedding in 1972, and never saw the light of day until you resurrected them in a splended renaissance of style. One thing young girls do love to see is a good hairstyle on a man. Now, my advice to you, Steve, is do study men who have classically attractive haircuts. People like Dave Hill of Slade (Host is in hysterics) - shut up! - or what man can go wrong with that crystalline rococco splendor of navel fluff, the Arthur Scargill? I mean, where would Jackie and Bobby Charleton be if they never had such a thick head of hair? Finally, and most important of all, the face. (Host is still laughing wildly) Can you stop her giggling? Will you poke her with this little boxing glove on a stick? The most important thing of all, the face. Now, keeping your face youthful is of prime importance, and a good sweeping beard of spots is essential. Simply eat chips five or six times a day from the bag, don't use your hands, just get your head in there and munch! (munching sounds) Some do's and don'ts, quickly. Do encourage the ginger hair to spiral out from the mole the size of a five pence piece on your cheek, and don't remove any remnants of breakfast that get caught on it. They can look so masculine. And, at last, the piece de resistance on any fellow's face - and I don't know a girl who can resist - are the two red marks from the nose down to the top lip -

JL: (in agony) Ohhh -

AP: - called number elevens, or tramlines (Host continues to moan). They do take a bit of working on, but if you feel the urge to blow your nose, don't. Just let it go, and within a month or two, these twin channels of delight will be etched on your face forever. So there we have it, Steve, simply do all these things and I guarantee that any girl who looks at you will simply faint into your arms. (pause) Janice.

JL: I feel sick . . . (laughs) I can cope with anything except noses. . . Um, if you've got any problems for him - you haven't got number elevens, by the way. . .

AP: No, no, I've worked hard with a piece of sandpaper to get rid of them.

JL: - Any problems for him, it's Agony Andy, the Janice Long Show, Radio One, London W1A4 WW. Who do you turn to?

AP: Who do I turn to? Ummm. . . I don't know, I mean - I just have to look in the mirror and say (lisp) "God, you're tho handthome" - Before I go, Janice - I can't answer that question, I must admit. Before I go, I shall be back in a - (snorting sound) - good grief! Mussolini! Come back over the side of the table immediately, please! Over by Janice at the moment, you filthy little swine, stay there. Before I go, I shall be back in a fortnight's time. Boys, no need to worry if you don't attract girls like flies - who wants girls who look like flies?

Episode Five

(Doleful theme music fades into a sound of a tractor, birds, cows mooing, etc.)

JL: On cue, he has arrived! Radio One's Agony Uncle - I don't know what all this mooing and (imitates bird calls) and "baaa". . .

AP: How are you, Janice, I've brought the whole of Wiltshire with me today - the whole county, very picturesque in this light. (Birds singing) Shh, shh, quiet, you lot, quiet, quiet. All right, that's enough. (Birds stop) Good lads. Right, well, I said I'd get them on the radio, I did - they've had their moment of glory now - yes, now go and wait for me in the lobby! Yes. Yes, all one hundred and seventy-five thousand of you - (birds start up again) - go on, off you go. Yes, well, you'll just have to make two trips in the lift, won't you? Go on, go on. (Birds fade) Honestly, you can't take Wiltshire anywhere with you these days, can you - (calls) and wipe your hooves! Ahh, honestly.

JL: Anything interesting been happening you in the past couple of weeks?

AP: Not really, except I've been anticipating all this mail that's come in, and in fact the post office has got a bit behind with their deliveries, as usual, so do brush aside the mound of stone tablets and papyrus scrolls that have been a little lately delivered, and read me the first prrro-BLEM.

JL: This one is in hieroglyphics, and it comes from A. Mole, who is in Warren Road, in Rugby. "Dear Agony Andy, Please help me. I have a terrible problem which makes me feel really, really self-conscious. It's a - boil. I have been to see my doctor, but he just told me it was a teenage spot. Alas, I've had this 'spot' for three days and it shows no sign of departing. So therefore, it must be a boil. Please could you give me some advice on what I should do, and should not eat, and how to get rid of my boil."

AP: Hmmmm. If a boil could talk, I wonder what sort of voice do you think a boil would talk - (Host and AP do funny voices) Well, um, what an unfortunate name, first of all - A. Mole, with A Boil - I mean, it could have been worse, I suppose - it could have been A. Whitehead with A Ringworm, or A. Zump with A Hunchback - sorry, I'm getting off the subject here. Um, first of all, let's find out if it is a boil. When you're standing up on buses, if people press parts of your face instead of the "Request Stop" button, then it's a boil. If you knock on somebody's door and they open it and look vaguely in your direction and say "Yes, what can I do for you two?" then it's a boil. If it's on your face and you can see it without the aid of a mirror, then that's some boil! [I had one of those... -ed] Of course, I'm assuming, A., that it is on your face. Now, if it's on the other end, well, that's easy to check if it is a boil - just as you're about to get in the bath, turn round, look in the mirror, and if it seems like you've got three buttocks, then that's one hell of a boil. Right, well, having identified it as a boil, what to do next? Well, you can have it removed by force, or learn to live with it until it goes of its own accord. Of course, if you wake up one morning and see two brown marks near it that resemble suitcases, then it's getting ready to go. Now, you have to make the most of it, really, while you have a boil - say for example you're getting invited to a party. Cover the raised, round area of the boil with sequins and take a torch along, then you can provide authentic Hammersmith Palais-type mirror-ball effects all night long. Alternatelally - alternatively - I can never say that word, 'alternatively' - it is a fancy dress do, the addition of a wig for you and a few deft strokes of the make-up brush on the boil, means you can go as Margaret and Mark Thatcher. . . Actually, I do sympathize with A. Mole, because I had - when I was a teenager I had a terrible complexion. What with my sort of pale, green, untanned face and these little white and red balls all over my face, I actually looked like a billiard table.

JL: Awww.

AP: But the last thing I can say to A. Mole is - remember, a boil is like a man, if you ignore it, it eventually goes away, but if you play with it, it'll only get bigger!

JL: (giggling) A lost sock in the Laundromat of Oblivion. That's who this is from. [?], Bovingdon, in Hertfordshire. "I have this problem, Andy, apart from writing on dire notepaper. I have this compulsion to write to Radio One DJ's. I can't open the front door because of the piles of TT mugs, my bedroom is littered with autographed photos of Gary Davis and [?], and would you believe that Adrian Just once sent me a pair of Batman Y-fronts?" He won't get anything from me 'cause we've nothing to give away. "By writing to you, I'm furthering my phobia, and to top it all, I can't spell 'phobia.' What do you advise, please? Answer post-haste."

AP: Right. Signing himself "Lost Sock," was it? Lost Sock -

JL: In the Laundromat of Oblivion.

AP: Great one. Right. Well, quite simply, I think you listen to far too much Radio One. It's really not enriching your life, culturally. I suggest you tune your receiver to Radio Four, where a whole wide world of wonder awaits your ears! Let's take a look what's on Radio Four tomorrow, shall we? Where's our Radio Times here. . . (rustles papers) Well, let's see - to start with, there's a three hour breakfast special, "Great Comedy Records of the People's Republic of China." Then at nine, we have part 12 of a 35 part serial adapted for radio, "Lornadoone in Braille," a follow-up to the highly successful "Pilgrim's Progress in Semaphore." At 9.30 we have the wit and wisdom of Adolf Hitler, followed at 9.35 by "Dance Hour" - this week, the best of Chilean punk. I shan't miss that myself. Then at 10.35 till midday, "Molester's Club", the news for the deaf at 12.00 noon is followed at 12.30 by the long-running radio quiz show for mercenaries, "What's My Hand Grenade?" (host is in hysterics) Then at 1.30, we have a special - dig her, will you? (host continues laughing) - at 1.30, we have a special seven-hour program for schools, "The History of Mime". That should be great. Radio Four - let's see, 8.30 in the evening, there's "Hatters Liz Travels," [?] which needs no explanation whatsoever, at 8.35 we hear live from a floodlit Wembley Arena, the semi-final of double-glazing salesmen of the year show! (Host shrieks with laughter) And finally, at 9.30, "Brass at Bedtime," which this week comes from Exeter, where the massed bands of the Prince of Wales' own hairdressers play us through to midnight with the marching magic hits of Plastic Bertrand. So! Why let Radio One poison your brain when you can do it more thoroughly with Radio Four?

JL: (gradually recovering) I love that, that was brilliant. OK, we'll talk some more in a moment.

(Music break)

JL: . . . you all right, Agony Andy?

AP: I've got Radio Four in these headphones!

JL: Don't tell me, it's probably the double-glazing salesmen of the year. . .

AP: Yes, they're just about to announce the winner, don't interrupt. . .

JL: Quick, quick, who is it?

AP: It's - damn, they've - they've run him over! That's his reward.

JL: Right, number three - problem number three. George Calvin, who is in Rolins Road in -

AP: (hissing desperately) You're not supposed to say their second names!!

JL: He doesn't mind, he didn't say "Please don't read my name out." (AP raves furiously) He's got a terrible problem, he really has, you know. And it's that - he's getting a stature complex, at four foot three, he says, "I'm the tallest member of my family, but still people keep calling me names like Noddy, Rumplestiltskin, Poison Dwarf, and worst of all, Gnome. Whilst I'm at work, I'm forced to listen to cruel and heartless jokes about gnomes and there's generally more references to my height, beard, and potbelly. Other gnome jokes directed at me usually involve fishing rods, wheelbarrows, little red hats, and pointed shoes with bells on. I've been looking for another job so I can get away from the constant barrage of jokes, but I've only had two suggestions so far, and these were, number one: Assistant Santa Claus in the fairy grottoes at the department store, and secondly, a supporting role in the local pantomime, which just happens to be 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.' Please help me avoid the curse of gnome. I am desperate."

AP: Awww, don't be desperate, George. George, being short isn't all drawbacks. Think of the benefits - like the fortune you must save in pay toilets, just by being able to walk under the doors! And diseases! You'll never catch measles! You've only got room to catch measle! You do say in your letter, you'd like to change your job. Well, George, there's quite a large spectrum of jobs available for shorter people. Two of the more interesting ones are coating the underside of cars with rust-proof paint and not having to lay down to do it, or a job with EMI where you get a special scaled-down bicycle and where you can ride around checking for faults inside the grooves of newly-pressed records! Plenty of overtime on that one - it helps if you're a music-lover. Um - if you have actually saved up any money and feel like taking a rest from your present job, George, why not go on one of those small people's adventure holidays? For example, £900 could take you to a little ranch in America where, for three weeks, you get to wear authentic cowboy clothes and ride around on bucking gerbils. Or, if that sounds expensive, try the two hundred pound European pot-holing holiday. We have a fun-filled fortnight plumbing the dark depths of a wedge of Swiss cheese. Catering for smaller people isn't new, of course. . .

And here, alas, "Agony Andy" ends. There is no more. Move along, nothing to look at here. . .

Go back to Chalkhills Articles.

[Transcribed by and thanks to Natalie Jacobs]