Dear Auntie Ora,

When people tell others to "Pull themselves together" is that a literal, or figurative, instruction?

Sibyl was feeling awful. She couldn't even stay in bed with flu without yet more of these damned questions piling up. It was alright for Miss Pythia DiStefano to go on a snake hunt in the Australian outback (Ha! Trouser snake, more likely) and Cassandra in London again researching some young royal or other. They didn't think for one minute that she wouldn't be able to manage on her own, did they? She pulled the blanket over her head, took another swig from the uncorked bottle of Cockburns vintage reserve and put pen to paper.

My dear chap,
There are some days when everything is so depressing and miserable that you can feel all your energy, confidence and self-respect disappearing over the horizon with their collective ass on fire. You have two choices. Either you can immediately book yourself a four-month holiday in the Caribbean or, if that's not feasible, you can pull yourself together.

The trouble is that when you're feeling below par, the last thing you care to do is pull yourself anywhere. The only things you are likely to pull is the bedroom curtains, the top off a bottle of sherry, and the duvet over your head.

Often your first instinct is to do things that ultimately make you feel worse: you sleep with someone 90% unsuitable for a 10% comfort factor; you go shopping for clothes that are 90% overpriced and 10% suitable, then you eat a half-gallon of ice-cream that makes you 90% sick and 10% more depressed. You then decide not to go to a party because you're so miserable and wonder why no-one phones you. (They're all at the party).

To pull yourself together you should first get moving - take the dog for a walk so long it thinks it's auditioning for a remake of the Incredible Journey or go to the gym and test your lycra to destruction. When you get home, put a load of washing in the machine, make a large hot lasagne, wash up all the dirty dishes, tidy the whole house, throw out all that junk you've been hoarding, pour yourself a large drink and pore through the photo album for memories of all your good times (don't do this if you look like a dork in your photo's). Freshen up your drink and play your favourite CD (I prefer Semprini Plays the Classics) and dance around until you collapse with exhaustion. When you finally collapse into bed, remember that things are a lot worse in other parts of the world, except in the Caribbean, of course.

There, I'm feeling much better already, especially as I've decided to book a ticket for Tobago.

Yours, with many thanks for the inspiration,
Sibyl Stojay