Agony Aunt: It’s time to up the Aunty

Image description: A happy looking cartoon person standing beside a sign saying ‘Agony Aunt’ and a pink and yellow flower, on a blue and green background.

Alreet, hens? It’s me, Bronwyn. I’m your new Geordie/Oxford Agony Aunt. I love discussing food, Barbie, and mental health, so this week is pretty on-brand.

I hope you are all having a lovely beginning to 2021’s Trinity Term. Some of you are at home and away from Ox, like me, and some of you are living amongst the dreaming spires today (in Oxford, that is, not the afterlife). Wherever you may be, I hope you can take some time to be kind to yourself and to others. Sappy, I realise. But I like sappy. Now, let’s get onto the questions…

“Dear Agony Aunt, I am dangerously addicted to Shreddies (the cereal, that is). They are the perfect breakfast, snack, and sometimes I even have two bowls as a meal on its own (sad). Last term I printed out (yes, printed) coupons which, when utilized in partnership with my Tesco Clubcard, meant I could buy 2 packets for 50p, horrifying my flatmates. How do I stop myself from munching on those tasty malty squares??? BUT THEY TASTE SO GOOD. Yours, concerned cereal lover.”

First of all, Shreddies are fine. My mam infamously used to eat plain Weetabix with butter when she was a student. Eugh. Against that, you’re ordinary.

Coming from a working class background (read: ‘oh god there’s no food, guess I’ll have Everyday Value cornflakes’), I actually think a diet of Shreddies is somewhat of a good idea; it definitely saves you money and time, despite it also saving you from making long-lasting friendships. 

I do agree there’s something addictive about being a day-cerealer. You’ve got your fresh bowl of Shreddies, your cold milk, granulated sugar, your tiny spoon… and it’s 4:43pm on a Tuesday. Actual paradise.

But if you really want to stop eating Shreddies, I have two suggestions:

  1. Ease off a bit. Make the switch to Aldi’s Malted Wheaties first. But by no means try Frosted Shreddies, or, god forbid, Coco Shreddies. You can’t let plain Shreddies be a gateway cereal.
  2. Think about that old ad campaign where the nannas made the Shreddies. Bloody weird, and makes you think you’re eating a sweaty piece of wool. This should help.

Shred you later,


“People hit on me too much.”

You poor soul.

“I think my boyfriend is cheating on me, he hates aftershave and is coming home smelling of spices. I am devastated but don’t know what to do ??? Advice, please.”

Be careful – Does he smell of a blend of 6 herbs and 5 spices? Then maybe he’s just been going to KFC on the sly.

My advice here would be just to ask him what his new aftershave is. If it’s not to do with the aforementioned chicken shop, then you might just be able to catch him out.

And what sort of person absolutely HATES aftershave? Dump him.

Finger lickingly yours,


“I seem to have reached a slump in motivation, and it makes me feel so disoriented that I can’t bring myself to do much at all. How can I snap out of it?”

I’m really sorry to hear you’re having a tough time, but thank you for speaking up and asking for advice. If you are in a deep crisis, get proper professional help (don’t just talk to an iffy amateur agony aunt).

And here’s my more general advice:

You can’t really ‘snap out’ of a slump. But you can walk away, do the things that you know actively make you feel better on bad days, and wait for it to pass. It always passes, but the bit in the middle is the hardest.

You can try a little dopamine brain hack, like setting a timer for 15 minutes and work on a solution to your problem, and act as if you were giving help to a friend.

And there’s the boring things – exercise that gets your heart rate up for 30 minutes three times a week, mindfulness courses, taking prescribed meds, getting enough sleep at the right time, a regular routine, and eating well enough.

Basically I’m saying do what works for you, or what feels the least horrific. For example, you can take a walk the length of a song you like – this is a nice small step when you are feeling poo. Or try Davina DVDs, I love them (I know, I know… I’m a middle-aged woman!)

I know that it sucks to be told that it takes time and effort when it feels like nothing you do works, but think of it like this – weightlifters don’t start on the heaviest weights, they build up to it from the lowest weight, getting stronger each time. Your mind is a muscle that you can train to be a little bit better at feeling better and bouncing back. 

You can do it, friend.


Got a problem? Hard to describe? Are you lonely? Filled with regret? Do you lie awake at night, pondering the logical inconsistencies of the 2007 direct-to-dvd movie ‘Bratz: Fashion Pixiez’? Do you really still think about how Olivia didn’t invite you to her birthday party in Year 9, right after you had invited her to yours? Are you constipated? Submit your question HERE! (It’s anonymous, and I promise I won’t laugh).

Image credit: Bronwyn Riani