Have you got a problem?
Do you need someone to help?
She’s seen it!
She’s done it!
She’s felt it!
Alice knows everything!
Send Alice an email. She can help.
‘So, what do you think?’ Lauren asked me. ‘Do you like it?’
I looked up from the screen.
Lauren’s face was excited. ‘You want more emails, don’t you?’ she asked me. ‘We’ll put this advertisement on the website and lots more people will write to you. What does everyone else think?’ She looked at the two boys in the room.
Ed, Johnnie, Lauren and I all worked on Jump, the website that gave news and stories to the kids at Gold Hill School. It was twelve thirty. We were having our usual Friday lunchtime meeting.
Ed was looking bored. Ed’s the sports writer for the website. Sport is the only thing he’s interested in. ‘It’s fine,’ he told Lauren quickly.
I looked over at Johnnie. Johnnie looks after the website. He knows a lot about computers. ‘Er … what do you think, Alice?’ he asked me in his quiet voice.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘it looks good, but it’s not true, is it? I don’t know everything. And I haven’t done everything.’
But Lauren didn’t think that was important. ‘When they make an advertisement for a phone they don’t say, “This phone is OK”,’ she argued. ‘They say, “This is the best phone in the world!”’
I knew that was true, but phones are different to people. I wanted to say to Lauren, ‘I’m not a phone!’ But she was already talking about something else.
Lauren’s like that. She always thinks she’s right. She writes most of the stories for the website. And she’s the editor – the person who decides most things. The website was all her idea.
I love writing and that’s why I wanted to help with the website. But when I talked to Lauren, she said they only needed an agony aunt. An agony aunt – me! I’m only fourteen. Agony aunts in magazines and on websites have to answer some difficult questions. They’re usually quite old.
My friend Emma thought it was funny when I first told her about it. ‘It’s a stupid idea, Alice!’ she told me. ‘It’s more work. Haven’t you got enough homework already? And it will be boring! You’ll get lots of emails from sad people with problems.’
But I didn’t mind that. I wanted to be a journalist when I left school, and I thought the website was a good way to get some practice. So I went back to Lauren and said yes, and now I’m an agony aunt. I give advice to people with problems. And I like the work most of the time. It’s nice to help people.
Here’s an email I’ve just replied to:
From: Stay-at-Home Girl
Subject: Please help
Can you help me with my problem? My nose is too big and I hate it. All the other kids laugh at me and call me names. I hate school now. I just want to stay in my room all the time. Please help.
This is the reply I put on the website:
Hi Stay-at-Home Girl
I’m sorry you’re so unhappy. I know what it’s like when people call you names. I’m mixed-race – my mother is black and my father is white – and I get called names sometimes too.
But what about the kids who laugh at you? Perhaps they have something they’re not happy about. We all have something that makes us different – too tall, too short, not having the right shoes … Perhaps laughing at you makes those kids feel happier. I know that’s not nice and it’s not fair, but sadly people are often like that.
Please, Stay-at-Home Girl, come out of your room and don’t worry. My advice is to tell yourself you’ve got the best nose in the world!
And if you’re still unhappy, please talk to somebody – your mum or dad, or one of the teachers. They can help.
I hope this helps.