As Auntie lacks the biological urge to reproduce she can’t speak from experience – though she was once stepmother to two media brats with a mummy and daddy who stuck enough coke up their noses to fall just short of needing nasal reconstruction. While the brats could roll a better joint than Auntie, they had no interest in partaking themselves and treated their parents with mild scorn.
Unless you’ve pawned her iPod to pay for crack, the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ approach invariably backfires, and if you decide on full disclosure she’ll probably think ‘Mum’s hardly Peter Doherty and gets through the day without being arrested, so drugs can’t be all bad.’ There’s a fine line between no-holds-barred confession and lying, but Auntie has some prepared scripts that might help you out.
There’s the Hazel Blears ‘I had one or two puffs but it didn’t work’ approach; Jacqui Smith’s ‘I am not proud about it, I did the wrong thing’; Oliver Letwin’s ‘I was tricked into it by friends who put dope in my pipe’; or even the George Bush manoeuvre: ‘When I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible.’
Alternatively, you could contextualise drug use with larger social issues, such as the brutal trade involved in cocaine or the CIA’s role in funnelling drug money into weapons and war. Auntie also knows a couple of brain-addled ex-friends who would be happy to talk gibberish to your daughter for a week in exchange for a few wraps of coke – enough to put anyone off drugs for life.
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Dear Auntie _ War, famine, economic depression and global warming - the idea that 'another world is possible' seems remoter than ever. Will we ever have a just and peaceful world? _ Desperate for peace, Preston
Dear Auntie _ At one of the Gaza protests in London, Stop the War put the number of protesters at around 100,000 but the police insisted it was only 20,000. Can Auntie reassure me that the Met has a scientific methodology for estimating crowd numbers? _ Numberless in London
Dear Auntie, All my left-wing friends seem to be overjoyed about Obama winning the US election, holding real hope that he will bring change, that he'll stop the wars, and that he'll somehow make America all cuddly and nice. But haven't we been here before? I'm getting flashbacks to the expectations people had of politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and how quickly they betrayed us. Is it terrible that I think Obama will be just more of the same? Hopeless, London
Dear Auntie, Having reached 50, I've become invisible. It's the only explanation of why people look right through me. I'm ignored in shops and at bus stops; and getting served at the bar is an endurance test, as men and younger women always take priority. I have a lifetime of experience as an activist, but these days there's always a 'Darren' or 'Ryan' whose opinion matters more. I'd go as far as saying they don't even hear me speak! It seems white hair and wrinkles are taken as an early indication of Alzheimer's. But I'm not ready to go gently into the night and as Auntie looks of a similar age, does she have any advice? The invisible woman, London
Dear Auntie, _ I'm a vegetarian who is fed up having to justify why I don't eat anything with a face on it. And it's the environmentalists who are also meat eaters who seem the most personally affronted by my choices. Do you have any suggestions how I can deal with this? _ Chickpea not chicken lover, Totnes
Dear Auntie, I just learnt that my father, whom I haven't seen in years, plans to leave me a very large pile of dosh in his will. As this is the ill-gotten gains of his work as a Ministry of Defence fat-cat contractor, I know it was made at the expense of others' suffering. Does Auntie think I should keep or give it away? Almost filthy rich, London