Your Problems Solved, With Holly Harper

Dear Holly,
My friend has a new girlfriend called Svetlana from Latvia, whom he apparently met online on one of those mail-order bride websites; after only a few emails she arrived in the UK to live with him. Although Svetlana always wears a rather scornful expression and never speaks, she's got a lovely pair of pins and my friend seems really happy. My wife died several years ago and I feel sometimes like I could benefit from a similar kind of friendship, especially if the woman in question will do shameful things in return for jewellery. Do you think I should give it a go?

Dear Griff,
I would be quite wary about getting in touch with random foreigners for the sake of striking up a friendship. I had a French pen friend once, called Nicholas Gailliard from Brittany. I wrote to him a few times and told him all about my family and that I have long brown hair and I wear glasses, and that I have two rabbits and a cat called Smokey. He was equally articulate in his correspondence, and so you can imagine I was quite excited to finally meet him on the day that his whole class came to visit my school. Looking back, I should have realised that he was dodgy from the beginning: the fact that he had freaky joined-up handwriting and used weird squared paper for his letters were big clues. Essentially, I ended up having to spend the whole afternoon making strained conversation with him about my sporting hobbies and the various leisure facilities in my town, while he just sat there and shrugged and said 'cool'. To make matters worse, he was wearing shell suit trousers and a Naf Naf jacket, and so any previous ideas about a long-distance French romance were swiftly quashed. If were you, I'd be very careful of embarking on this friendship unless you've first fully revised your Latvian vocab. Also, if your new pen friend ever says anything along the lines of 'j'aime bien le hip hop' you should cease all correspondence immediately.   
Hope that helps!


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Men Puzzled By Debate Over Bouncy Girls

MEN across Britain continue to be puzzled by the debate over the pros and cons of bouncy girls, it emerged last night.

As the first size 16 contestant prepares for the Miss England beauty pageant, women said it was an important breakthrough while men said they could not imagine the circumstances in which this lovely big girl would be deemed unattractive.

Helen Archer, an official woman, said: "This is the culmination of years of determined struggle against a male dominated culture that enslaves women and demands they conform to a perfect ideal of sexual attractiveness."

But Nathan Muir, a completely normal person in every way from Hatfield, stressed: "What the hell are you talking about?

"She's a cracker and I can say with cast-iron certainty that if I, or any of my friends, were lucky enough to be on top of her you would need a crane to get us off."

Martin Bishop, a remarkably ordinary human from Doncaster, said: "The girl with the hips, the magnificent knockers and the warm, happy face… or the arrogant, sulky angle-poise lamp who spends half her life in the bog?

"I'll be honest, I don't listen to women all that much but from what I can gather the debate is, essentially, about attractiveness and therefore it is reasonable to assume that I, as a man, am the one who is supposed to be attracted.

"We keep saying it until we are blue in the face – for the love of god, please gain some weight because we do not want to have sex with someone who looks like a 12 year-old boy."

He added: "However, if I and my colleagues are not the target audience then I am deeply confused as to who you are trying to appeal to – unless of course you all harbour some secret desire to be seduced by Gary Glitter."