'There’s fake news that my hair is a toupee': fictional agony aunts Joan and Jericha open their celebrity mail

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In an increasingly fractured and hostile world, it can be hard to.....okshop.com

In an increasingly fractured and hostile world, it can be hard to know where to turn during moments of crisis. Enter Dear Joan And Jericha, the darkly hysterical podcast in which comedians Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine play the world’s least sympathetic, most judgmental agony aunts. Armed with their own experiences of marital difficulties (Joan has lost three of her six husbands to suicide) and large-headed lesbian progeny (Jericha’s adult daughter Cardinal is medically classified as a “walking syndrome”), no problem is too filthy or absurd to receive a dose of their unique wisdom. And what they lack in empathy, they more than make up for in consistency. Whether plagued by “muttony lady limbs” or a husband who gets amorous with the family dog, listeners can rest assured that they have only themselves to blame.

Launched to little fanfare in 2018, the show has since become a cult hit, winning best comedy at the 2019 British podcast awards. Now, the duo have written a book, Why He Turns Away, “an unputdownable bible of sex and relationship advice, from dating right up until you or hubby pass away”. To celebrate, we asked Joan (Julia) and Jericha (Vicky) to raid their postbag and revisit some of 2020’s biggest quandaries. Joe Stone

Dear Joan and Jericha,

There’s fake news going around that I wear a toupee. Just because my hair is golden and lustrous, people think it’s not real and that I’m wearing a wig to hide male pattern baldness. The truth – it’s actually my hair, my hair. How can I convince people it’s real?

Joan Bless him, it’s very angelic, isn’t it, to have golden hair?

Jericha It’s gorgeous, Joan, and he sounds like such a lovely guy.

Joan He does, and the hair – or hairs – there’s probably what, about 30 or 40 in all, would you say?

Jericha Yes more a sort of rumour of hair up top, Joan.

Joan But with this stunning sort of ginger-biscuity glow on top of a kind of transparent custard.

Jericha Very sexy indeed, Joan, makes you want to have a nibble, doesn’t it? And what you’ll find with these types of fun, puddingy colours on a sexy older guy is that a lot of models and top celebrities, your Leonardo DiCaprios and your Prince Charleses will all suddenly be queueing up at Nicky Clarke’s or Vidal Sassoon’s begging to ape this fella’s russety autumnal head cloud.

Joan Absolutely. I think he just needs to be a bit more confident!

Jericha Yes, the poor chap looks like rather a gentle soul with that sulky, little boy pout and misty blue eyes.

Joan Looks very weepy actually, doesn’t he, and he obviously minds terribly what people think.

Jericha I’d say, look, just ignore the naysayers. Stamp your foot a bit! Let them know who’s boss.

Joan And if people are really squaring up to you and challenging the reality of your hair, perhaps try putting the section they claim is a toupee into some wee bunches, or something that will prove that it’s attached to your actual scalp. Maybe he could attach some chains to it and ask someone to pull him along the street with a golf cart, or ideally a monster truck ?

Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine
‘He’s sex on a stick. He’s very tall.’ Photograph: Jay Brooks/The Guardian

Jericha That would work, Joan. The other thing he could do, of course, is show people what the rest of his body hair is like. Looking at his photo here, I’d love to see him in one of those wonderful V-neck T-shirts that the fellas are wearing these days, that go plunging right down to the groinal area.

Joan Gorgeous. He actually sent in a photo of himself naked, which is very, very nice. And interestingly his bottom is very hairy indeed, so it might be worth him trying to make a feature of that area. At the very least, maybe wear some chaps. I’m not sure what he does for a living?

Jericha Doesn’t say, Joan, but I don’t think there are many jobs where wearing some botty-exposing chaps isn’t going to be very welcome. And, looking at him here, he’s certainly not badly off: he lives in a wonderful white house, and he looks very, very healthy.

Joan Yes the colour of his skin, his whole Tango vibe is really fun.

Jericha He’s a sexy guy, Joan.

Joan He’s sex on a stick. He’s very tall. Taller than you think (he sent in his measurements). But he’s deceptive because he has the face of a sort of plumpy short man, but actually there’s a lot of length to play with here.

Jericha: And he’s packing quite a punch down below.

Joan: I’ll have that with chips, please! He could also maybe try some affirmations in the mirror: “I like myself. My hair is real.” That kind of thing?

Jericha Yes. “I make great choices. I deserve to be powerful.”

Joan Wonderful, and I think he should have a bit of fun with this whole thing and give it back a bit, have a flirt. If the ladies are doubting his hair, he can have a good old yank at their boobs and say he’s just checking to see if they’re real?

Jericha Exactly, Joan. It’s flirty, it’s sexy and it puts him right back in the driver’s seat.

Joan I’ve got high hopes for this guy.

Dear Joan and Jericha,

I work in public service and spend my days brainstorming exciting initiatives, like shipping asylum seekers to far-flung volcanic islands. I’m a stickler for rules, and during the pandemic have taken great pleasure in reporting my neighbours for any lockdown violations. However, I think my near-constant surveillance of them may have awakened a voyeuristic streak. Should I tell them to pop up some net curtains, or continue my clandestine snooping unabashed? I’m fearful that any kind of conviction could prove problematic at work.

Jericha Oh dear, oh dear.

Joan It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? She’s obviously rather a bitter, difficult woman. That said, I do like to keep an eye on my neighbours. I love to watch people, that’s just one of my things. And if I go round to anyone’s house for a coffee, I’ll always slip a few cameras in when I pop to the lav. I suppose I just want to hear if people are slagging me off, or what they look like under their clothes.

Jericha It’s human nature, Joan, and we know, don’t we, that yes, people are pretty much always talking about you, I would say for the large part, positively…

Joan I would think so.

Jericha …talking about all the wonderful fashion tips and great glamorous outfits that you don.

Joan Bless you.

Jericha Of course, you have your wonderful scotch castle, so you haven’t got any immediate neighbours, have you?

Joan No, but I do near my Knightsbridge pad, and folk are aware that I have a chocolate fountain on the go 24/7, so that sets a lot of tongues wagging. But castle-wise, yes, I’m totally secluded.

Jericha But you’ve got these wonderful, powerful binoculars which reach for several miles, so you can see if anyone has more than six people going into their house at one time.

Joan Yes, and I would report them, and push for their conviction, even if I wasn’t sure.

Jericha Absolutely, and anyone who doesn’t is a criminal themselves.

Joan Yes, and should be convicted.

Jericha Of course. Yes, we’re all on the right side of the law here.

Joan Well, we both love the bobbies, don’t we? All these hunky guys that let you wee into their helmets.

Jericha Indeed, though just to clarify that’s only if you’re pregnant.

Joan Yes, or drunk… Or can’t be bothered to queue in John Lewis.

Jericha Oh, sometimes those queues go on for ever don’t they, Joan, with folk who aren’t even shopping there!

Joan Very rude, I always report those people to those gorgeous big security guys and push for a conviction over cocktails.

Jericha Yes, I often give them a good swipe with my John Lewis handbag. But going back to our lady in question, she says she’s snooping on her neighbours for legal reasons, but I’m actually wondering what kind of perverted sexual thrill she’s getting from all of this?

Joan I think she’s up to something quite filthy when she’s looking. Even the net curtains would add another frisson, because you can still see through those gauzy holes. She’s turning it all into a sort of sexy French movie really, isn’t she?

Jericha Yes, casting herself in the leading lady role. No doubt donning all sorts of flimsy thises and thats, and writhing around on her four-poster.

Joan I think she’s seeing herself as a sort of Isabelle Huppert, imagining she’s quite a sophisticated lady, who can play piano with no pants on and carry off a chic navy trouser and a braless blouse when she’s parading her wares around Paris. But what’s rather selfish here is that she seems primarily concerned with her own possible conviction.

Jericha Well look, were this lady to end up in prison, as an obviously voyeuristic woman, she’d actually have the time of her life in there.

Joan Reading between the lines, perhaps this is what she was angling for all along, a nice bit of prison action. She’ll be the one that’s a menace in the showers with her pointy soap on a rope…

Jericha Yes, prison is the right place for her, Joan. Hope that’s helped, and very best of luck!

Dear Joan and Jericha,

My last marriage ended in unpleasantness when my ex defecated on our bed (although she insists it was the dog). I’m keen not to make the same mistake twice – how can I ensure that any future partners are fully potty-trained? Are there any red flags I should be wary of?

Joan Poor guy.

Jericha Bless him, he sounds like a very gentle, sweet man.

And, as we always say, it’s absolutely vital that the lady makes herself as attractive as possible to find and hang on to her hubby, and I don’t think soiling the bed would be my first port of call.

Joan No! Now, there are a number of tests you can do to ascertain quite quickly whether or not your lady is going to be the type to pass a stool in your bed, aren’t there? You can take her temperature for starters.

Jericha Yes all these Covid temperature-takers at restaurants are actually doubling up with checks so they can also assess the likelihood of you being a lady who is rather free with her stools.

Joan Meaning single or married guys in restaurants on the lookout to bump their uglies with a fellow female diner have access to this kind of vital information about what to expect in the downstairs backdoor department, should they end up hooking up with one of these loose-logged lasses.

Jericha So a low body temperature increases the chances of this condition, because coldness slows the digestive tract right down, keeping all the boluses, or boli queueing up very politely. But then, come nightfall, in the comfort of a lover’s bed – everything lets rip, which is very likely what happened here.

Joan Yes, that’s when the anus finally feels safe to give the faeces the old heave-ho.

Joan Conversely, ladies with a high body temperature are generally very backed up and only tend to go once a month, usually in a neighbour’s nicer toilet, with a magazine and a latte.

Jericha So he might want to seek out one of these types, though she will look quite dry in general and suffer a lingering egg-based halitosis.

Joan I think the concern, according to this guy’s longer letter, was the stool size, because she’d said they belonged to the dog. But we know it was a very wee dog, and we had them sent in so we could have a look, and goodness they are big.

Jericha Yes, one of them was 2ft long, Joan, which is quite a lengthy size for a human. Not unheard of. We’ve all looked in the bowl and thought, “Goodness me, that’s a big one.”

Joan Yes! “Is that really mine?!” I get that after a big roast.

Jericha For some people, this is heavy, giddy sex play, and for others it’s a terrible turn-off.

Joan I think what can be deceptive are these pretty actress-type ladies who one thinks are so feminine they wouldn’t even break wind, or if they did it would smell of roses. Actually, they’re the ones on a film set often doing the worst stinkers.

Jericha Yes, and the most pungent and enormous stools, some of these tiny actresses. It’s funny to think of that. They’re cast for these tiny looks, and then you go in the trailer and find they’ve dumped all over the floor.

Joan: And when they’re up there receiving these awards, often they wear these big dresses for that very reason.

Jericha With a tail at the back, to hide any smears and leakage.

Joan Of course, it’s gorgeous when a guy leaves a stool in lieu of a phone number.

Jericha Indeed! Well, good luck with this one, poor fella. Don’t give up! Lovely looking chap with his eyeliner and earrings, wonder what he does for a living?

Joan I think he’s some kind of pirate or fortune-teller maybe. And thanks for the videos!

Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine
‘Medically speaking there are three ways to test eyesight...’ Photograph: Jay Brooks/The Guardian

Dear Joan and Jericha,

I’ve been having a few difficulties with my eyesight, but I don’t trust conventional opticians. Can you recommend a 30-mile drive to test it out? Maybe near a castle?

Jericha Well look, yes, medically speaking there are three ways to test eyesight. The first is to go to an optician, Boots and the like, and have a simple eye-chart test. The second is indeed, as this gentleman suggests, to take a drive, preferably with a minor in your car, to a beauty spot that includes an elderly building, just to make sure you can see it when you get there. And the third is to stop constantly self-pleasuring. Now I’m certainly not suggesting this third option applies to this lovely guy…

Joan No, but we’ve all done it! It’s a great stress-buster, particularly in a traffic jam. But certainly, when my eyesight went very foggy, I felt the best way to test it was to hop in my Prius and drive to a stately home.

Jericha Yes, one needs to get in the car and simply career about to see if you hit anybody.

Joan And there’s something about these pretty, elderly buildings that are particularly good for testing your eyesight.

Jericha It’s the intricate features, Joan. If you drove to, let’s say a Tesco, to have a look round, it’s all very garish, it’s just form and function. Whereas these wonderful castles have these exquisitely delicate carvings, detailed brickwork. You’re really able to use those eyes to scan about and have a good old gander.

Joan A good old butcher’s, absolutely. And the eyes are muscles, aren’t they, so they need a workout. His longer letter says he had his wee son in the car, who I believe he’d asked to come on the journey to shout directions and tell him what was going on.

Jericha Because he couldn’t see at all at that stage?

Joan He could make out the odd shape.

Jericha Very sensible. Well, look, OK, eyesight is important when driving…

Joan But not vital.

Jericha Exactly, we all know that when one sense fails you, the other senses are automatically boosted as the body moves to compensate, so this guy will certainly have been using his increased ear power to hear the sounds of other cars and juggernauts up ahead.

Joan His nose, too. The nose can be very useful when driving, can’t it? I know certain whiffs alert me to which way to go round a roundabout, or where there’s a good parking space, so he’ll have had his hooter on red alert and his ears flapping about, along with the wee lad hurling helpful instructions at him from his booster seat.

Jericha Absolutely. But eyes-wise, yes, if you can’t be bothered to get a traditional checkup. And possibly this chap has some nasty history with perhaps a bitchy optician?

Joan Yes, I can see him with an unfaithful four-eyed ex.

Jericha Very nasty. So he has absolutely every right to refuse an eye-chart test, and by all means should hobble into that car and simply career around the streets and roads for a substantial 30-mile trip.

Joan And a castle is such a fun destination!

Jericha Particularly if the cafe is open for some lemon drizzle cake and an Earl Grey tea.

Joan But do try to go on motorways if you can. You don’t want to wheedle around little B-roads where nobody is going to come into contact with you.

Jericha Exactly. And for goodness sake, go at a busy time. Go in rush hour.

Joan Absolutely. Very best of luck!

Dear Joan and Jericha,

Since meeting my wonderfully strong American wife, I’ve decided to distance myself from my family, who are very staid and stuck in their ways. Our estrangement means that I’ve been cut off from the family fortune, but luckily I’ve recently signed a contract with a streaming giant. As media polymaths, can you recommend any underexplored topics for development into a lucrative TV project? Admittedly, I’m a bit of a novice.

Jericha What a sweetheart. Is this one from a child, Joan?

Joan Hard to tell with the photo attached, but he’s got lovely bright carroty hair and these close-set button eyes, like a wee ginger teddy.

Jericha Very sexy these gingers Joan, aren’t they? Rula Lenska, Bonnie Langford and, I know you had that very steamy affair with Mick Hucknall.

Joan Oh, I still enjoy the odd romp when Mick’s in town for one of his perms. Now, I don’t know what a polymath means, but I’m very flattered he’s used the word.

Jericha I believe it’s either something farmers use for the improvement of their crops or a promiscuous person who beds numbers boffins. But I must say, he looks rather dashing there, in his big Hitler uniform doesn’t he… which I believe Grandad kindly lent him?

Joan Yes, and I can see what he means about that family! Granny certainly looks like rather a grumpy frump.

Jericha Doesn’t she! Rather a sour-faced old puss who’s a bit full of herself, sitting on that big chair wearing a cheap tiara from Claire’s accessories. Well look, he’s asking for unexplored ideas for television programmes, let’s box a bit clever here and ask ourselves first what people like. There’s a lot of hospitals, police procedurals, baking shows?

Joan Yes! So perhaps it’s about mixing it up: he could be the baking policeman who performs operations on the hoof in his mobile bakery?

Jericha Yes, and I could certainly see him as a ginger Poirot.

Joan Or a rusty haired Columbo, but he says in his longer letter, which is mostly illegible, that he struggles a bit with his reading and writing.

Jericha Well look, you can get a coach, can’t you? Perhaps he could get Dame Judi Dench to give him some tips.

Joan He’ll have his work cut out, I’ve heard she’s quite the taskmaster. But he could certainly start with donning some big scarves, floppy hats and a jazz shoe.

Jericha And try hanging around some homosexuals, like Mr McKellen or Mr Jacobi.

Joan I’m sure they’d be more than willing to give him an apprenticeship.

Jericha Or learn from the folk prancing about outside Hamleys or popping out from behind a wall at the London Dungeon… People love a murder mystery.

Joan Yes, or he could try filming something around a homicide.

Jericha Yes, perhaps of a beautiful princess who got on the wrong side of the tracks. It could be a wonderful take on underhand subterfuge and revenge. Just off the top of my head.

Joan At the end of the day though, it’s not really our job to give other people television ideas, is it?

Jericha No, we’re clamouring to hold on to the ones we’ve got ourselves, Joan, aren’t we? But look, if there are any parts in any of our shows, I’m sure we’d be willing to bear him in mind.

Joan He could certainly have a little walk-on, perhaps carry a bowl of fruit across the back of a shot, but he’d have to stay over with us, so we got a bit more familiar with him, over a week or a month.

Jericha Yes, make sure he was relaxed ahead of filming, perhaps some massage or some hopi candles. We could order in some items.

Joan I’d love to try some wigs on him.

Jericha Do you think that’s answered the question for him?

Joan Not really.

Jericha In all fairness, I have had a number of Camparis, Joan – which is something he’ll need to get used to if he’s moving in!

• Dear Joan & Jericha – Why He Turns Away: Do’s And Don’ts, From Dating To Death is published by Trapeze on 29 October, in hardback and audio, at £16.99. To order a copy for 14.78, go to guardianbookshop.com

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