ask toni & josh

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 September, 2009, 12:00am

Dear Josh

I'm pretty good academically and have exams coming up soon, which I should do well in. But my handwriting's really bad. I'm worried examiners won't be able to read what I write and will fail me.


Dear Scrawly

My best friend at school had the same problem. The guy's a genius, he always came top of the class and teachers loved him. But when it came to exams - disaster.

Teachers struggled to read his pinched scrawl and had to deduct marks - even if he'd written the most convincing argument ever, he would never get very good results because the marker simply couldn't read it.

He actually failed one public exam because his writing was so bad. Luckily it was re-marked and he passed with flying colours, but it was a constant worry.

The only real solution, if you're at a school or working with an exam board that won't allow you to bring in a computer, is to improve your handwriting. I realise you must have loads of stuff to do without adding this to the list, but if you do badly purely because someone can't read your well-structured, well-argued answers, all your hard work will have been in vain.

First, find a pen that you can use comfortably - for my friend, it was a fountain pen. Something inky, rather than a biro, may make the writing process smoother.

Then practise whenever you can. Write letters to friends and relatives instead of e-mailing; if your teacher agrees, write out homework assignments and essays instead of typing them up. Take your time to form the letters - you're not in an exam yet - and get used to the feel of pen on paper.

Yes, you're probably going to feel like a six-year-old all over again, but if it helps improve your grades, just suck it up. Write on!

Dear Toni

My family eats meat with every meal. But I want to consume less meat for the sake of the environment and my own health.

But my parents insist I need meat to survive and won't listen to my reasons. How can I make them see what I'm trying to achieve?

Part-time veggie

Dear Stella M

Parents always think they know best - and about 97 per cent of the time, they probably do.

But as people get older, they hang on to the things they are familiar with, and assume everyone else in their life will enjoy the same things.

It seems this is the case with your parents. They've probably eaten meat at every meal from a young age and so assume that's how things should be done.

While meat provides some very important vitamins and minerals, such as protein and iron, it is not the only source of these benefits. If it were, vegetarians would be in big trouble; yet vegetarianism has been practised by various religions for thousands of years.

You're right to question your parents' wisdom. Too much meat can contribute to high cholesterol and an increased risk of some cancers.

What's more, raising animals, in particular cattle, for meat is very taxing on the earth: cows produce a huge amount of methane gas which damages the atmosphere.

Not to mention the high cost of buying meat.

While convincing your folks is going to be tough, I think you can help them to realise how much healthier they'd be with the odd meat-free day. You could gather some stats on the damage too much meat does to the body, environment and wallet, then cook them a delicious veggie meal. Wow them with the versatility of meatlessness then present your findings. Good luck!

Dear Toni

I'm 18 and still living at home. I've been with my boyfriend for two years and we're ready to live together, but I'm an only child and I don't know how to break the news to my parents.

Ready to fly

Dear chick

I'm sure you feel this boy is the love of your life, but are you really ready? You may feel like an adult - legally you are - but 18 is still very young. Are you both working? Can you afford to pay rent? Not to mention paying for utilities, groceries, transport - all the things we take for granted when we live at home.

And what about your future - do you plan to get married and have kids? These things cost a lot.

I'm not saying don't move out - I think a lot more Hong Kong people should move out of their parents' place before marriage and experience adult life and responsibilities. I'm just suggesting you weigh out your options. If you're working full-time, why not stay at home for another year, save some money and learn to cook and clean. Then see how your relationship is going, how your bank balance looks, and then revisit the dilemma of breaking it to your folks.