Jo Brand – Saga Magazine's new Agony Aunt

Jo Brand joins the team, answering your relationship questions every month, only in Saga Magazine

Comedian Jo Brand has been a fixture on British TV screens for more than 20 years, including numerous appearances on the likes of QI and Have I Got News For You, presenting The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice, and her recent sitcoms Getting On and Damned.

But Jo, who started her career as a mental-health nurse, is now Saga Magazine’s agony aunt, giving down-to-earth, witty, yet sensitive advice. Whether it’s relationship difficulties, grief or dealing with tricky in-laws, Jo will try to help you with your problems.

And here's a sneak peek of Jo's first Q and A from November's issue of Saga Magazine...

Question Every year around now my sister-in-law and I battle – via each respective family – for who is going to host Christmas lunch. Covert manoeuvres to win ground in family discussions have begun. There’s about 24 of us and it is a huge effort, but I’m convinced we all have a better time at my house than hers.

Answer Dear Napoleon. Let’s continue the military theme, shall we? I’m afraid I fell immediately into conflict with you, as when I read your letter I automatically assumed that you were battling for your opponent to ‘do’ Christmas and let you off the hook. Oh dear, it seems you actually want to do it yourself!

Not in a million years would I ever want that and I really cannot understand your enthusiasm.

Let me think why you might want Christmas at yours:

  • Your sister-in-law is a terrible cook – no-one likes a soggy Christmas dinner with a fourth course of Gaviscon.
  • You’ve got a bigger telly.
  • Your sister-in-law’s house is not as nice as yours; it’s cold, uncomfortable, cramped, grubby, dog-haired, smelly – I could go on...

You really do sound as if you’re conducting a military campaign to achieve the accolade of hosting the victory feast – and forcing your family to collude with you in the process.

If I won, it would ruin my Christmas. I like nothing better than donning comedy slippers in front of a giant screen and watching a vacuous film about princesses while someone else catapults round the kitchen, necking quantities of sherry and Valium as the pressure rises.

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, if you’re both desperate to host the festive meal, why don’t you alternate the venue each year? If this is too ridiculously straightforward, why not divide the workload and go to your sister-in-law’s, but take a lot of the food with you?

Another option, of course, is to have Christmas dinner at a restaurant. I realise, though, you will run the risk of ‘the poorly cooked roast potato’, a completely unacceptable phenomenon.

If you have surmised by now that I am a slatternly, hopeless, domestically challenged misanthrope, you’re not far off. But one thing I do love at Christmas is peace on earth and I sincerely hope you achieve it.

Question I’m just divorced and my best friend, who was my anchor throughout and said we could travel together afterwards, has met someone she is going to marry. I find I’m horribly jealous and fear I’m going to lose her.

Answer I wish life gave solutions as simple as the scenario you were expecting, but it simply doesn’t work like that. If it did, what a perfect transition you could have made from divorcee to free woman, laughing, drinking and selfie-ing round the world with your conveniently single best friend.

You are understandably upset, but spare a thought for your best friend. She carried you through those difficult times and now you want her for a double-act partner till kingdom come.

Surely a generous mate allows their closest friend the chance to make a relationship for themself? And that equally generous friend does not immediately lose touch for the sake of a man? So…

Be pleased for her and (sorry in advance), if you love her, let her go. Sure, it’s to your disadvantage, but don’t we all want the best for our loved ones and not just for us?

And don’t be pushing him off a cliff at the first opportunity!

Good luck.

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