Your Personal Agony Aunt
Here to answer all your Contraception & Sexual Health, Menopause & Internet Dating queries!
All You Ever Wanted to Know about ‘the Agony Aunt’
- But Were Afraid to Ask!
by Daisy Mae
The allure of the agony aunt is certainly not new! When I was a teenager myself - I used to flip to the ‘problem page” section of my weekly magazine - Just Seventeen – and read this section before I read anything else! My girlfriends and I would often read the pages out loud, and usually with much hilarity.
Since there have been many memorable so called ‘Agony Aunts’ – For example Margery Proops, and Claire Rayner in the 70’s and 80’s. More recently ITV’s own Denise Robertson. These ladies have become much loved celebrities of our time. Always kind, sympathetic ladies, and giving first class advice.
The First Ever Agony Aunt!
So, I was very surprised to find out, while reading around this subject, that the first ever agony aunt, was a man! – in truth – an agony uncle!
The prestigious title is held by a publisher called John Dunton. In order to increase sales of his magazine, The Athenian Mercury, he decided to assemble a ‘panel’ of twelve people, and invite this esteemed local group to consider the current topics of the moment. Although he never assembled the full dozen, the idea of asking and answering questions in print, proved hugely popular. Before long a wide range of topics were being discussed and with much enthusiasm!
In a fascinating article in 2016, in The Daily Mail online entitled “Are these the funniest agony aunt letters ever? Hilarious problems shared online,” journalist Sofia Brennan reiterated some of the funniest problem page letters in history! These included “One man concerned his wife was pregnant after strip poker,” and “ a wife who put nail varnish on her husband’s penis to check he wasn’t cheating!”
How has the Agony Aunt Developed?
The development of the agony aunt has mirrored the socio-political and economic developments of the 21st century. Nowadays, a man is just as likely to ask for help as a woman. We have a much more open society. Subjects like sex, contraception, STIs and abortion are discussed in the newspapers and on the radio. There is no shortage of information online.
"It’s much easier for anyone with troubles to reach out ... or is it?"
Why? - an Agony Aunt?
Here’s the thing. There are times when a problem is so personal and so private that you cannot share it even with those closest to you. You may be too embarrassed to discuss it with your doctor or nurse. The problem may be so great it is having physical consequences, perhaps stopping you sleeping, eating or going to work. In these situations, enter the agony aunt - what a magic answer to the problem! Someone you can trust, but who remains anonymous enough not to be seen face to face.
The person with the problem needs to know several things:
1. If they want their problem kept confidential, they need to be sure that this will be the case. Some people may be happy for their questions and answers to be published, under a false name, in the spirit of helping others. But if this is not the case, they need to feel really confident that their problem will not be disclosed.
2. They need to know about the agony aunt - or uncle. What qualifies them to be in this role? What experience do they have? Will they give good advice? Are they someone you know enough about to want to share your problems with them?
3. How to make contact? Online, via email? Can they phone, text or write a letter if they prefer? Is the website secure? Is the letter going to be opened by the right person?
4. Is there a fee? A counsellor may be a more local and sustainable option, but there are long NHS waiting lists, and counselling often tends to done privately. Most agony aunts give their services free of charge. Of course they may suggest that you do see a counsellor, as they cannot offer that type of ongoing regular care.
A new Agony Aunt – Me!
To my surprise – I find that I myself have now become an agony aunt - quite by default!
Since publication of my novel Dating Daisy in July 2017, a humorous book about the trials and tribulations of internet dating in middle age – Oh and life as a doctor in the sexual health clinic, people have started to approach me.
Maybe it’s the doctor thing? Or the fact that I myself went through a painful divorce, and lost both my parents in quick succession, that qualifies for me the role. I was a GP for 8 years, then a Sexual and Reproductive Health specialist for 22 years, working in a lead role in our Service.
My life has been devoted to women’s health which is in summary anything and everything to do with women’s health that doesn’t involve major surgery - gynaecology/contraception/specialistcontraception/STI’s/unplanned pregnancies/infertility/abnormal smears and my special subject – Menopause! I have spent 30 years listening to women and helping and advising them. And now I have another strong to my bow – I’m an internet dating expert!
On my website I have published a just a few of the questions people have sent me, with my replies, as some people do want their problems kept confidentially. However I am always happy to get your questions, comments, ideas, and any medical or dating issues I might be able to help you with.
My site is secure, and I have just added Privacy and a Copyright Statement. If you contact me, you can be sure of the best reply I can give you, as promptly as I can do it!
A modern day Agony Aunt! That’s me!
If I can help you with anything, please get in touch!
Get in Touch - Daisy Mae Writer, doctor, Agony Aunt
Dating Daisy, available at Amazon -https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=dating+daisy
See my most recent post on The Huffington Post UK
Daisy Mae, my Sexual Health Blog at The Huffington Post UK