Agony Aunt: Feeling dotty

Image description: newspaper clippings with the words ‘agony aunt’ written in block letters.

In the most tenuous theme that has strung together our column thus far, this week we’re feeling dotty: that is, dissecting one poor soul’s absolutely dotty dream and discussing dotty typing etiquette. Yes, we’re reaching. And yes, you lot are turning our inbox into your own satirical column. We love you for it. We only miss the real issues a little bit. On a completely irrelevant note, the link to submit problems is at the bottom of this page!

Dear agony aunts, I had a dream about a newborn baby formed completely out of cooked rice. In the dream I had to babysit the horrible rice baby and miss out on bridge thursdays. I can’t stop thinking about its terrifying sticky face, with little dents for eyes and mouth. Fancy interpreting this dream for me? Sincerely, broke student who has maybe made stir fry one too many times this term

S: I’m truly fascinated by this inquiry. In fact, I’ve been dwelling on it for several days and the rice baby has begun to make appearances in my own dreams. Last night, dressed in a “future Oxford student” jumper, it actually took its very first steps. There are fews joys in life, but one of them is when your imagined rice infant begins its growth into a real rice person.  I digress.

I think perhaps you are approaching this dream in the wrong way. Look at it this way— if your rice baby had real, human eyes and tiny baby lips, would that make it a better image? Perhaps they simply need what you never received in childhood: love. 

Parenthood is full of sacrifices and giving up Bridge Thursdays is but the first of many. Eye dents and all, you made the choice to stir fry on a regular basis without protection— you must take responsibility for the result. It was all fun and games until your glutinous snack morphed into a human form. Now it’s parenthood. I hope you’ve learned your lesson.

To answer your question bluntly though, I think this dream is meant to teach you to love the unlovable, as your own parents did. Or maybe cut down on the sticky rice and try brown. It’s better for the baby and will prevent any more morphing mishaps. Maybe our rice children can even meet up for a little playdate when this whole pandemic is over. I’ve concocted this great recipe for soy sauce biscuits and my little one just adores them. 

In any case, the agony aunts wish you luck in your dreamed parental endeavors! Yes— we are feeling okay, if not a little abstract! 



My strange addiction… I can’t stop punctuating sentences with ellipses… I picked it up from my strange manager at work, and now I keep slipping into it on all platforms… emails to my tutors, making me look quite silly… on the family whatsapp group chat… internship applications… I also sort of feel like it makes me come across as chill and tranquil, so part of me likes it… thoughts? Should I drop the dots… do they drive you dotty? Or am I just building my brand? – 3rd year Law

E: The Ellipsis Infatuation, as it is called amongst scientific circles, is not a new phenomenon. In fact, one of its most recent victims has been my own father, who despite the lockdown and the fact that I’m barely more than ten feet away from him at any given moment, continues to message me daily asking “what are you doing…”, “is mum back from tesco…”, or ‘what do you think of this…’ with a link to a twitter thread of dogs that look like Boris Johnson. 

Ellipses undoubtedly radiate a nice chill vibe but, at the same time, it could read like you’re struggling to get words out, or having a difficult poo and typing at the same time. So, I would advise dropping it, especially for more formal messages. Please see my ‘Email Etiquette’ scale below to help you strike the correct tone when writing:

Too rude


Txt spch lol

Failing to introduce the email with ‘Dear ___ , I hope you’re staying safe and well.’’

Overuse of ellipses….

Concluding with ‘regards’

Concluding with ‘kind regards’

Concluding with ‘best wishes’

Ending every sentence with an exclamation mark! No, I’m not dead inside!

Ending sentences with an exclamation mark and a smiley! 🙂

Introducing AND concluding with ‘I hope you’re staying safe and well.’

Too much

Concluding with ‘lots of love’, several kisses xxx and a link to your podcast and/or PayPal

As you can see, the Ellipsis Infatuation can easily devolve or evolve into far worse typing habits, so watch out. I don’t know why Grammarly shills out thousands on YouTube ads when I’m here writing absolute gold for free… You’re welcome…. Oh, wait… Hang on… Is it beginning to affect…. Me….?

Got a problem that you think merits the attention of the Agony Aunts? Submit it to us HERE! Good advice not guaranteed.

Yours in agony,

Elsie and Sonia


Art by Iona Shen