1. Tater envy and Half-Elven hair loss
An age or so ago, me and my mates was sent over to Middle Earth on a job for the Valar. Before we took ship, the boss asked us if we was a colour, what colour would we all like to be. I reckoned he was having a laugh, so I said brown, cos it's a funny colour, innit? How was I to know he was being serious? Now I'm stuck with it, and I'm had it up to here with the other Istari taking the mick out of me every White Council meeting. Any ideas?
- Radagast the (unfortunately) Brown, Rhosgobel.
Looking beneath the surface of your words, I think what we have here is less a case of colour-envy and more an underlying crisis of confidence. Let's start with the colour brown. Brown is wonderful. It's natural, organic and great for camouflaging stains – in short, it's just like you (apart from the bit about stains). It's far nicer than grey, and look where blue got Alatar and Pallando! As for white – well, I've always secretly thought Saruman looks like a member of the Ku Klux Klan. My advice to you, Radagast, would be this: go to the next Council meeting with your head held high. You are neither a simpleton nor a fool, and bird-taming is a perfectly legitimate pursuit. Take pride in the colour brown, and take pride in yourself!
I'm almost embarrassed to write to you about so personal a matter, but I'm at my wits' end. My husband and I used to enjoy an unusually passionate (not to mention fertile) relationship, but lately all the fire has gone out of our life together. He's taken to locking himself in his forge for hours on end to "spend some quality time with the Silmarils", as he puts it. Sometimes I think he loves the stupid glowing stones more than his real family. What can I do to rekindle our relationship?
- Supposedly Wise, Valinor
Dear Supposedly Wise,
Husbands, eh? Believe me, I can sympathise – although my Sindarin other half was always more of a tree-hugger than a master craftsman. From one desperate Noldor housewife to another, it's clear that your husband has taken you for granted for far too long. Why not spend a bit of time away from home – he'll realise soon enough that the blended light of the Trees of Valinor can't satisfy all his needs. And if the worst comes to the worst, hire the best lawyer in Tirion, make sure you get custody of the Silmarils in the divorce settlement, and leave him with all 7 kids.
Lately (as in, for the past few yeni), I've noticed my friends have been making excuses not to do stuff with me. When I confront them about it, they say it's because I'm always making pronouncements of doom at inopportune moments. Why can't they just accept that it's part of who I am?
- Doctor Doom, Halls of Mandos
Dear Doctor Doom,
I'm sure that when you were growing up, Iluvatar told you to "just be yourself". The fact is, however, that we all need to make a few adjustments when we're in company. Take me for example – I used to freak everybody out by looking into their minds and seeing the future, until I realised that I made a lot more friends by just smiling enigmatically and making vague references to "that which has not yet come to pass". If you feel the need to pronounce somebody's doom when you're with your friends, why not try doing it quietly, or in a funny voice? If that doesn't work, I'd recommend that you stop hanging around with the cool kids like Manwe and Varda and spend a bit more time with Nienna. She seems lonely.
(P.S. I hope you're well, but for obvious reasons I hope I won't be seeing you any time soon.)
I'm becoming increasingly concerned about my hairline. It appears to be receding at an alarming rate, making my forehead look the size of the plains of Gorgoroth. I've always been fairly insecure about my appearance, and now I'm becoming paranoid that all the other Elves are laughing at me behind my back. Can you suggest anything?
- Anonymous of Rivendell.
Thank you for your letter. With my own luxuriant golden tresses this isn't a problem I'm familiar with, so I had a word with Dr Olorin of Lorien Health Clinic in Valinor. He tells me that hair loss, along with wrinkles and occasionally mortality, is a fairly common trait among those of mixed human and elven parentage. This natural process can also be exacerbated by excessive eyebrow activity. You can seek to slow it down by applying an infusion of athelas to the temples three times a day, but unfortunately there is no lasting cure. Your best bet is to make it less noticeable – for example, you could wear a tiara or other headgear to cover the offending area (does your Dad still have that circlet with the Silmaril in it? That would be perfect). Alternatively, you could cultivate a particularly eye-catching style of dress so that nobody's even looking at your forehead.
I don't know if you're the right person to ask, but I'm in a right state about my taters. This spring, we had a cold snap up here in the Shire and my potato patch was frozen solid. My old dad says as there's no hope and my taters are all ruined, which would be a right old shame as I was sure this was the year I'd finally beat that Sam Gamgee in the Four Farthings Fayre Potato-Growing Challenge. I hear you're a bit of a gardener in your spare time. Is there any elf-magic that might help me out?
- Bingo Bracegirdle, Hardbottle.
I don't normally deal with queries of this sort; however, our usual gardening expert Gaffer Gamgee is away this week with some unpleasant-sounding mortal affliction called a "hernia". I can't promise any elf-magic, but why not try some Lothlorien Fertilizer Dust, available for a reasonable price from all good garden centres between the Blue Mountains and Gondor. We're currently running a very special offer – one free mallorn nut with each large box!