Take that, groupies!

Dear Auntie, As a music-obsessed greenie, the recent spate of bands reforming after years of obscurity has got me in a fix. The desire to get back in the saddle and start trailing my favourite band on tour across the globe is becoming stronger with every second that Take That! spend creating their new album. How do I reconcile my desire to be a transnational groupie to early-1990s has-beens with my environmental obligations? Is there any way of obsessively trailing my idols without resorting to multiple short-haul flights? Martha Owen, Chester

December 1, 2006 · 2 min read

Dear Martha,

Musically, you may be beyond redemption, but there are ways to solve your environmental problem. Rather than cityhopping by plane, try travel website The Man in Seat Sixty-One for suggestions about how to wend your way between gigs by land and sea.

Trains and boats are ideal for someone of your musical inclination, with excellent scope for singalongs and improvised musical numbers. You can karaoke your way through a million love songs by the time you hit Calais.

However, even if you refrain from emission-heavy modes of transport, your idols will not. I can’t see Gary Barlow and company crooning ‘Could it be Magic’ from the backseat of a Megabus, or breaking into an impromptu chorus of ‘Everything Changes’ while stranded on the platform at Crewe station.

No, no. It’s going to be short-haul central for those boys. They might try to greenwash their reputation by planting a tree for every gig – but an entire grove of Jason Orange saplings is unlikely to save the world, or do much for bio-diversity.

You’re better off starting a campaign to encourage the band back into retirement.

Once they’re back for good in Cheshire, you’ll be free to indulge your inexplicable obsession while sticking to your environmental convictions.

Take that and party



The crack pipe of peace

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

Learning by number

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

No hope

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


Both feet not in the grave

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

Do what I say, not what I inhale

Dear Auntie, _ My daughter is starting to ask awkward questions such as 'Mum, did you take drugs when you were young?' I don't want to lie but I don't want her to venture down the same route. What do I tell her? _ Amy in London

Nice smelling poo

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