Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3629 Set by Leonora Casement

You were asked to send in a letter to an agony aunt from a famous literary character.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Hon menshes to Adrian Fry (Bertie Wooster), T Griffiths (Molly Bloom), M E Ault (Lady Macbeth: "show your husband you are not afraid to get your hands dirty") and John O'Byrne (Molly Bloom). I laughed, but looked slightly askance, at El Basilio's reply from Margaret to Emma (Bovary): "It seems you have become the town bike." A little indecorous for Mrs Cook, don't you think? £15 to winners; the bottle goes to Ian Birchall.

Dear Margaret: I have had to smuggle this letter out to you as I am held captive in the attic of a large house somewhere in Yorkshire. Although I plead and beg to be released, my cruel husband ignores me and has employed an uncouth local woman as my gaoler. If anyone hears my screams he claims I am demented, but, you see, I'm of Creole extraction and I fear my husband has succumbed to the racial prejudices and bigotry of his social class and chooses to lock me away.

Recently he has employed a governess to tutor his daughter and I am sure he is planning to marry her. She obviously has some peculiar and malign influence over him, for she is plain as a pikestaff and would not normally attract admirers. What can I do?

Margaret writes: I am sorry to learn of your sorry plight at the hands of this potential bigamist, but, as it is his word against yours, the solution lies in your own hands. You must continue to protest your sanity and make some grand, dramatic gesture to draw public attention to your predicament. This will force your husband to acknowledge your presence and open up his activities to scrutiny. I am sure your release will soon follow.

R J Pickles

Dear Margaret: My husband has been away for 20 years and has only just returned. He says he's sorry it took him so long, but that he was unavoidably detained by a psychopathic one-eyed giant, then for 12 years by an evil sorceress who turned his friends into pigs and sent him into the Underworld to inquire the best way home. Then after stuffing his ears with wax and getting tied to the mast, he says he found that his ship had blown off course towards some narrow straits where half his crew were eaten by a sea monster. He says it was only thanks to the intercession of the Goddess Athena that he was saved. Do you think I should believe him?

PS He's brought me back one of those sweet little glass snowstorm things from the Underworld.

Margaret writes: I'd give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Trust is very important in a relationship. But if he starts acting strangely, or suddenly starts bringing you flowers or chocolates for no apparent reason, or starts looking guilty during EastEnders, you may have to think again.

David Silverman

Dear Peter: I'm getting seriously worried about the people who work under me. I know they think I'm a bit of a control freak, but some of the stories circulating now are really going too far. They're actually suggesting that I have some device fitted in television sets so I can keep people under surveillance. Or that I have special staff rewriting history so it looks as if I was always right. I'm a pretty straightforward sort of guy; I wouldn't do anything like that.

Now they are saying I want to make people believe that two and two are five. That I say Ignorance is Strength. It's ludicrous - everyone knows my views on education.

There's some guy called Smith keeping a dossier on me. I don't know what he intends, but it isn't just me who'll be harmed; it's the whole Inner Party. What shall I do?

Peter writes: You really need to rework your whole image. Start with your name - Brother is so old Labour. And after that, a bit of gentle rewriting of history might indeed be just what you need. For example: you've never hated Goldstein; you've always been willing to work with him . . .

Ian Birchall

Dear Claire: My relationships always fade and die after what is - to me - a fantastic one-night stand. I'd love a lasting, full-blooded relationship, but no woman can live up to it, or wants to share my title or fairy-tale castle. Where do I go wrong?

Claire writes: Many a man has been driven demented, even totally batty, by the strange ways of women. I wonder if your intense passion alarms them? Few women want to be sucked dry on a first date, however warm-blooded they are. Take it slowly: leave something for next time. Love hurts, so watch those lovebites - women can find them difficult to explain. A castle, too, can be a bit overwhelming, even chilling for a first date, especially if it's creaking and draughty, so keep those windows closed. Go for easy-listening music and romantic decor - if your taste, for example, inclines to the Gothic and a coffin in the hall, get a good consultant to give your place a makeover. It's too easy to take personal style statements for granted and not realise what a blood-curdling effect they can have. Oh, and in case you don't already, avoid garlic; it's a passion-killer!

D A Prince

No 3632 Set by John Crick

So do the Ten Commandments have any relevance to today's world? In an irreverent way, we want you to reinterpret them to suit the 21st century. Or, if you don't feel inspired, how about writing a complete set of new ones to meet our needs? Entries to be in by 8 June.