Dear Miss Sixty,

Please help. I’m a hard-working Home Secretary, of middle years. I wear well-cut sensible suits and typical Conservative pearls. I did, I admit, go through a phase for leopard-pattern shoes, but I’m over that now. So imagine my feelings when I heard that a journalist had described me as ‘hot.’ What does this mean? And what can I do about it?  T.M.

Dear T.M.,

What a very unpleasant experience. Generally speaking, as I understand it, the term ‘hot’ is used for someone you’d like to have sex with. Women use it as well as men. But the difference is that when women use it, it’s generally a compliment to the person concerned. It means that they are physically attractive, in addition to whatever other status they have. But, occasionally, when men use it, and especially male journalists, it isn’t intended as a compliment. Its intention is to dismiss your status as Tory politician, ghastly though that status may be, and focus instead solely on your body, and whether or not the author would like to shag you. Berlesconi, of course, could not do otherwise. He once noted that Angela Merckel had a backside which was not worthy of penetration. I just mention in passing that, whereas she is still German Chancellor, he is currently doing community service….

Retaliation is tricky. Because, as I’ve mentioned, if you respond by saying that he, too, is hot, then that’s potentially a compliment, and he’ll just smirk.  In fact, whatever you do, he’s going to smirk.  Dignified silence is probably the way to go, T.M.

Dear Miss Sixty,

Basically, like you, I’m sixty. I want to know whether it’s still okay for me to go into TopShop and New Look, or whether I’m best sticking to Dorothy Perkins. KC.

Dear KC,

A good question. I think the trickiest stage in shopping terms is generally mid to late forties. It’s then that you realise that you don’t recognise any of the music they’re playing in Topshop any more. You also realise that every single customer, not to mention every single shop assistant, and also the manager, is young enough to be your daughter. Sometimes women at this stage force their own daughters to accompany them, so they have cover whilst browsing through racks of unsuitable mini skirts.

But by the age of sixty, frankly, you don’t care any more.  You can shop anywhere you damn well please. You can buy anything you damn well please. As grown up world citizens, we should obviously shun labels whose clothes are made too cheaply for their makers to earn a living wage. We should, I feel, probably also shun most things made of nylon or polyester, and things with elasticated waists, at one end of the scale, and transparent neon tops and beads that look like boiled sweets at the other.

But other than that, KC, feel free and run free. Miss Sixty is with you.

Dear Miss Sixty,

Have you noticed how few road safety adverts there are these days? Do you remember the wonderful ‘Don’t Be An Amber Gambler’, and the joyful little animated cartoon for ‘Don’t Weave Between Lanes’?  Best of all was Reginald Molehusband and his reverse parking. I miss all these. They made me feel safe. CB

Dear CB,

Me too. They were great days. Robin Reliants took on motorways, insecure suitcases would fly from roof racks, and oil leaked freely from smoking engines.  CB radio was all the rage, and a thick cloud of exhaust hung over the whole country. All gone now, sadly. 

Miss Sixty replies in brief:

Tulisa C: I agree. He’s a very bad man indeed.

First female warship commander: Yes, tricky. It’s probably just as well that you’re on annual leave right now.

Robyn R: Please. Don’t bother me with trivia. Having said that, your initial troubles me. I sincerely hope that your parents didn’t name you Robyn Robbins. Or Robyn Robinson. Or even Robyn Robertson. Please write again. I need to know now. Robyn Rubens? Rembrant? Rollins….?