18 OCTOBER 1991, Page 55

YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVED

Q. How can I tell for certain whether or not someone fancies me? I have been 'going out' for a few weeks with a girl who does seem to enjoy my company but I can- not quite believe that she could find me physically attractive as well. Though she comes round to my flat, etc, where I could, in theory make a pass at her, I have so far been too feeble to do so for fear of rebuff. The whole business makes me cringe with embarassment. I am fine once I am over the initial hurdle of the first pass with a girl but the truth is that it's never been me that has made the first move. In the past, I have always let the girl make her feelings known, so to speak, but this one has not yet made any such demonstration and may, or may not, be waiting for me to do so. What Should I do? I could not bring myself to Just lunge and risk her drawing away in revulsion, having thought we were just friends.

P.W. SE17 A: The best way for you to handle this dilemma would be for you to take some travel sickness pills of the type that advise that one should not operate machinery fol- lowing their ingestion. This should induce a convincingly stupified demeanour on

your part. You should arrange to meet the girl in question in your flat for drinks before a night out but then explain, as she arrives, that you are incredibly sorry — you have stupidly taken travel sickness pills instead of Panadol and are having difficulty focussing and concentrating. 'I'd better not mix them with alcohol, I suppose, but you have a drink. Let's stay here for half an hour or so and see if I sharpen up a bit.' The key purchase that you should make before this encounter is that of a Feverscan thermometer. This illuminated strip is held against one person's forehead by another and affords a desirable degree of physical intimacy. Having asked her to take your temperature you can then collapse on top of her rather than lunge. Should your col- lapse be met with a physical stiffening on her part, you may simply allow her to restore you to your upright posture. Should you sense that it has been met with accep- tance you may then fasten your lips on hers with confidence.

Q. My husband and I go about once a month to stay with his parents in Bath. My problem is that though I enjoy every other aspect of our visits there, I cannot eat my mother-in-law's cooking. She is rather old and tends to favour austerity dishes such as tripe and spam. When she 'cooks' a fish finger she does it by putting a frozen one into a slow Aga for just long enough so that it thaws and is warm but still cold in the centre. What can I do? We already have to bring drink and keep it in our room but it would be too complicated to bring food as well.

C.C. Worcs A. The ideal solution to this problem is that you should pretend to have become a vegetarian. Vegetables cannot be made disgusting in quite the same way as meat and most people could manage to put up with eating only vegetables for a weekend with equanimity.