On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the “Dear Abby” newspaper column, the Daily Telegraph has compiled a list of the most notable agony aunts in literature, TV and film. Waugh qualifies for a character from The Loved One:
GURU BRAHMIN (MR SLUMP)
In Evelyn Waugh’s 1948 satire The Loved One, Aimée Thanatogenos, who works at Whispering Glades cemetery, thinks she is in love with the senior mortician, Mr Joyboy. Aimée often appeals for advice to the Guru Brahmin. In reality, the Guru (described as “the Oracle” is Mr Slump, a chain-smoking local paper journalist and a grim drunk who offers vicious advice (to drink poison) when “more drunk than usual”. Usually, he holds the phone away from his ear while readers ring in with their questions.
Another literary agony aunt cited is “Miss Lonelyhearts” from Nathaniel West’s 1933 novel of the same name. The Telegraph also includes in its internet edition of the article a link to singer-songwriter John Prine performing his song “Dear Abby” on a 1973 broadcast of the BBC’s The Old Grey Whistle Test.