Tuesday, 28 August 2007

PARADISE


We all need time out now again. It helps us recover mentally and recharge those batteries inside us that run on adrenalin. I grew up perfecting the technique of day-dreaming; sometimes though I can bury myself in a good book or cd. All create a little bit of Paradise where, if only for a while, I can lose all those things that bug me. These days my favoured piece of Paradise is a spot in the majestic Langdale Valley in the Lake District where we stay in a wooden chalet with large glass windows from which I can spend hours just watching the beck trickle by and the varied species of bird at the feeder which hangs down from the nearest tree across our patio. Day begins with a brisk swim and then after a day on the hills getting punch drunk on the scenery, we return for a sauna and sustenance. It’s becoming an annual cleansing ritual; an opportunity to get close to nature and beauty; to rediscover myself and either to forget or alternatively come to terms with all those issues that I normally can’t get out of my head.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

TENSE NERVOUS HEADACHE

On Thursday morning I was severely stressed and anxious, there was no mistaking the symptoms. My heart was pounding; I felt sick and tense; I kept breaking into a sweat; I couldn’t concentrate; I was taking quick short breaths and suffering from bouts of light headedness and a sense of impending doom.
It was apparent that Apprentice Man felt the same way. They were after all his GCSE results that we were waiting for.

Tension in our lives inevitably manifests itself with physical symptoms. We have to be careful that these in turn don’t cause longer term complications. Fortunately for me, the tension didn’t last long and there was no doom for Apprentice Man either- he passed them all with flying colours.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE


There are various ways to conduct ourselves when a marriage breaks down and whilst I did not recommend Stepford two weeks ago, I remain a firm believer in alternative remedies where appropriate. Another that I do not recommend however was highlighted in the media today and should be a dire warning for any man contemplating a move to Russia with his loved one.

In the case reported, the couple, who had divorced 3 years before, had been forced to continue to live together in a small flat resulting in increasing acrimony between them. Presumably in desperation, the former wife took matters into her own hands when her ex-husband gave her an easy opportunity to inflame the situation still further. So whilst he was naked on the sofa, drinking vodka and watching TV, she leaned over and set his penis alight! I have a hunch, although the report was silent on the point, that the vodka may have helped. Needless to say the husband is quoted as telling reporters that “It was monstrously painful, I was burning like a torch.”

Now before anyone reading this gets ideas, can I just stress that here in the UK whilst you can still end up in the unhappy situation of living in the same home after a divorce has been finalised, a court does reserve the power to decide the outcome of a home’s ownership and even in the case of a rented property which of the couple can continue living there. This will take a little time but pending a decision and in the event of abuse or violence (a description that would undoubtedly encompass this woman’s actions), the court can also make an injunctive order excluding the perpetrator from the home.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

THE PERFECT ILLUSION


Recently I blogged about my friend Constance and her belief that she would find perfect love in only a particular looking man. I don’t think Constance is alone. An old school friend seems stuck in a time warp. He came to stay the other weekend. He and his wife divorced the best part of twenty years ago but he’s so obviously seeking a companion that resembles her, it’s unreal. Worse still, he seems to have forgotten that he’s aged in the meantime and the woman he’s seeking is someone who resembles his wife as she was and not as she presumably now is. Seems he has this vision of perfection and nothing can sway him from it. Unconsciously he’s projecting his idea of perfection onto anyone who looks like her. It’s like worshipping statues on pedestals or Roman idols. Talk of fixed head sets! Worse still when his various liaisons don’t live up to his expectations, he blames them not himself.

For any long-term relationship to work, you can’t have illusions, particularly not those to the effect that your partner is perfection personified. That’s why Outdoor Man and I get along so well; we totally disillusioned each other years ago!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

WHEN OTHERS INTERFERE


When I left work today my way was barred. Darlington Town Centre seemed to have been taken over by the emergency services and my route along the high street to my car, calling at a particular shop en route, was blocked. I tried another way but again there was a police cordon. Craftily I slipped down a back alley hoping to re-emerge on the main street further up, but this time six burly policemen and a strip of red tape prevented me. Ultimately I gave up and taking a large detour made my way to my parking spot by a different route.

My intentions had been honest but others had intervened to prevent me pursuing what I considered to be my own business. Forcing my way through was not an option and I had no choice but to admit defeat and retreat. I felt frustrated and even angry that my routine and freedom to walk and visit where I might choose should be impeded in this way.

Later I discovered that there had been an underground fire in the pump room linked to the Town’s new water feature and for safety reasons the High Street had been evacuated.

Emotionally though I felt that I had been challenged and deprived of an opportunity to engage in a way I had wanted. The police and fire brigade clearly acted to prevent me and others being inadvertently harmed but from the point of view of my personal life and agenda it felt like a gross interference that I could only properly appreciate later.

Monday, 20 August 2007

TACKY SOUVENIRS



Little Girl collects snow globes; Apprentice Man collects those plastic pens where some object (usually an image of a boat or sometimes a cable car or train) moves up and down. On holiday we spend hours in tacky souvenir shops trying to unearth them. It has, I admit, become easier in recent years to find snow globes, even in those hot areas of the world that have probably never suffered a frost since the last Ice Age. Surprisingly, plastic pens can be more elusive but there’s nothing more challenging than browsing the shelves of shop after shop till we track one down.

My friend Constance was recently divorced, well 2 years 3 months and 14 days ago to be precise (she never fails to update me when we meet). Since then she’s started to collect boyfriends. She doesn’t find those in tacky souvenir shops so far as I know, though she seems to look everywhere else. Her latest foray is Internet Dating and she spends hours browsing pictures of man after man. Now Constance is an exceptionally good looking lady and I keep expecting to be introduced to a consort by the name of Tall Dark and Handsome. But no, Constance has developed a philosophy on life that says all good looking men suffer from character defects like those of her ex. As a result the only ones she considers worth examining for kindness, maturity and all the other attributes she's seeking seem to be at least ten years older than she is, wrinkled and toothless. She’s also convinced that green eyes are a sign of trustworthiness. Hence Constance keeps pairing up with rejects from national gurneying competitions sporting pea-coloured orbs where their eye-sockets are meant to be. Regrettably none of them has proved to be at all genuine and, one way or another, she still keeps getting dumped.

Until such time as Constance learns that mutual affection has nothing whatsoever to do with a stereotype created by a closed mind, I suspect that her love life will continue to keep me entertained.

Click here for link to Sam Hasler’s Blog on Indiana Family Law

Sunday, 19 August 2007

FORTUNE COOKIES


Outdoor Man took me for a meal in our favourite Chinese restaurant last night. At the end of the evening we were served, as always, Fortune Cookies. We eagerly snapped open the biscuits, then pushed them aside in our haste to devour instead the little words of wisdom they contained:
“What consumes your mind, controls your life.”
“If you’re happy, you’re successful.”

Friday, 17 August 2007

TONGUE TWISTERS


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper. Where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?
Red lorry; yellow lorry.

Tongue twisters. They are difficult to get our mouths round and even if we do they hardly make any real point at all.
It’s the same with feelings. They can be difficult to express and even after hours of analysing them, they may still fail to make sense.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore; the shells she sells are sea shells I’m sure.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY


I’m a member of a Reading Group and this month we read “Travels with Charley in Search of America” by John Steinbeck. The group enjoyed the book immensely, whilst recognising that it has its defects and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Personally I discovered that Steinbeck may unwittingly have revealed the reason for discord in our relationships when he wrote: “A beard is the one thing a woman cannot do better than a man, or if she can her success is assured only in a circus.”

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

UXOR


Today, I asked Outdoor Man if he’d named his boat Uxor because he intended to spend more time with it than me.
“Of course not,” he protested and then tried to wriggle out of the situation by claiming that I should be flattered because essentially he’d called her after me.
“Why’s that,” I asked, “if it isn’t about all the time you’re planning to be with her?”
His explanation went as follows: “I can handle her only by knowing the ropes; she needs a mate and a strong arm to comfort and guide her; when she rolls she creaks just like you; she has a broad reach.” Then, just when I thought I had heard enough, “She needs paint to keep her looking pretty,” he added.

Outdoor Man is not a lawyer but he now knows that verbal abuse can give rise to grounds for divorce on the facts of unreasonable behaviour!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

THE FOOTBALL SEASON HAS KICKED OFF


For anyone who has failed to notice, the British footie season kicked off again yesterday. So it’s more shopping for the girls and hoarse voices for the men, resulting in a 1-1 draw and a quiet Saturday night for both. No wonder the soccer pages aren’t presently giving divorce lawyers much to get excited about. For action in the Sports Section, it’s Formula One I’m following. The ongoing heated relationship between Hamilton and Alonso and rumours of a potential end of season bust up, after purportedly unfair play at the pit stop, could be a divorce blogger’s dream. It’s alleged that the two can’t work together; that they don’t share the team’s values and that Alonso has been told he can go. Motor racing supporters of course want to see this settled on the track in a public spectacle of blood and gore; a striking contrast to the privacy of the Divorce Court.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

THE STEPFORD WIVES


I watched the 2004 film version of The Stepford Wives on television last night, starring Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Glenn Close. Unlike either the book or original film it was not intended to send shivers down the spine but was instead a rather poor comedy, and I recall that film critics voted it a miss at the time of its release. It does share one ingredient with the originals, however, and that is that there is clearly no home in Stepford for a divorce lawyer.

In the original film, men were mobilised by the fear of women abandoning the traditional home-making role for the workplace. In this version it is the high-flying career women who have been recaptured by their inferior lesser halves and turned into beautiful, obedient, robotic versions of themselves, happy to do the most mundane of tasks at the push of a remote control button. It is described as a world of “romance and beauty…tuxedo and chiffon” where men who are sick of the increasingly hectic lifestyle of their shoulder-padded spouses have found a different solution to divorce: the magic box, from which their wife emerges as a brainless blonde trained only to dispense money from her mouth like an ATM, bake cakes and parade in supermarket aisles. “The women are perfect sex-kitten bimbos; the men are drooling nerds.”

To be honest I would have dismissed the film as a waste of my time and given up watching, save for the fact that in fairness it did have some clever lines, which if I caught them correctly included:

Husband: “We are in the country now, so no more black.”
Wife: “ No more black? Are you insane?”
Husband: “ You heard me. Only high-powered, neurotic, castrating Manhattan career bitches wear black. Is that what you want to be?”
Wife: “Ever since I was a little girl.”

Husband: ”Did you make the sandwiches?”
Wife: “No, I was finishing the last chapter, did you?”
Husband: “Where are the kids”
Wife: “What kids?”
Neighbour: “Are you two okay”
Couple: “Yes, we’re just married”

My favourite: “The women are always busy and smiling; the men are always happy. It’s not normal”

There is a twist at the end, when it is revealed that the whole thing was actually created by a woman; a former brain surgeon who after finding her husband in the arms of another woman (and an ugly one at that) had killed them both and essentially created a robotic replacement and Stepford. She claimed in pride to have turned the clock back to a time before stress and overtime.

Some words of advice- if you’re suffering from stress and overtime in your marriage: patch it up; see a divorce solicitor, if you have to; don’t visit Stepford.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

PEBBLES ON THE BEACH


“There are always plenty of other fish in the sea.” Do people still really say that in the sincere hope of cheering up a close friend or family member who’s been jilted?
Alternatively: “Don’t worry there are lots of pebbles on the beach.”

Well I made a good, though perhaps not so scientific, investigation when I was on holiday. As a result, I can verify that there were very few fish in the sea (it was after all the Mediterranean). As for the pebbles on the beach, yes there were plenty of those and in a variety of different colours and shapes. You know what though, essentially they were all identical; smooth, hard, and uninteresting; “chips off the same block”.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

HARRY POTTER AND THE LAST GOODBYE


Like thousands of other holidaymakers this year I took the latest edition of Harry Potter on holiday with me, knowing it was going to be the last holiday we would ever spend together. My relationship with Harry goes back to 1997 and whilst Apprentice Man claims to have long since outgrown stories of witchcraft and wizardry, his mother has not.

On the one hand, therefore, whilst I was excited by the prospect of the final instalment and a last opportunity to satiate myself with Muggles, Dementors and House Elves, I opened the book with a certain trepidation. Half a dozen pages in, I was engrossed, but then two dilemmas arose; firstly amidst all the rumours of characters being killed off would Harry actually survive to the end of the story and secondly did I want to read it quickly or would I prefer a lingering goodbye? Pedantically I noted that at 607 pages and an average reading speed of say 60 seconds per page the whole book was going to take me some 10 hours to complete. I therefore had a choice; I could limit the indulgence to say 45 minutes a day or jump in and get through it as quickly as possible.

The difficulty was that if Harry succumbed to Voldemort in the first half, then our time together and my enjoyment of the whole experience was going to be cut short very quickly, especially if I decided to do nothing else but sit on my sun-lounger and read from morning to night. Indeed an early exit for the hero could spoil the overall ambience of my long awaited summer holiday. I, therefore, succumbed to temptation and did what nobody should ever do with a good book, but I inevitably do; I read the last 5 pages.

If real life were the same and with the benefit of crystal ball gazing, how much different our lives might be. However and even then it wouldn’t solve all issues because I still had to determine whether or not to spend only the beginning of my vacation with Harry Potter or the whole of it. Crystal ball gazing might reveal the outcome but not necessarily the method of getting there.

Frankly I can’t see the point in long goodbyes; they only delay the inevitable. Ten years is a long time for any hero to keep you dangling with his tales of bravado and I decided that if it was all coming to an end then it might as well do so promptly. It took a day and a half to complete matters and that was it, for all time. Of course, there was a tinge of regret that there won’t be any more novels, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I occasionally looked over my shoulder for a passing Horcrux or Death-Eater. Overall though, I got on with my holiday, indulged in some other pursuits for a few days and finally came back to my bed by the pool to read more books!

Sunday, 5 August 2007

ONE GOOD TURN DESERVES ANOTHER


I’ve finally settled on a pet name for the new motor (see entry for 12 July 2007). It’s Dom; short for Dominus. Well if Outdoor Man is calling his new boat Uxor, I had to repay the compliment somehow. Mind I haven’t quite gone to the length of having it etched across my transom, but maybe the next time I pass that friendly tattooist, who knows?


Talking of good turns, I have to express my public thanks for the reviews undertaken of this blog by Jacqui Gilliat at Bloody Relations and John Bolch at Family Lore, as well as to Delia Venables and the good folk at Wikivorce and Infolaw who have been kind enough to put links on their sites to it. My thanks to all!


Saturday, 4 August 2007

GREAT WHITE SHARK SPOTTED NEAR NEWQUAY



Seems the tabloids were kept busy last week stirring up the gossip for old Cornwall.
Apparently, to Cornwall’s dismay, Great White has sneaked in and the paparazzi have secured some photographs. Some say they’re of a basking shark that turns up all the time and which Cornwall accepted as a visitor a long time ago. The media, of course, would have us believe that it’s Great White in disguise, but, in the event that they are of the wrong predator, then it doesn’t matter because he’ll be found in Cornwall’s backyard before long anyway.
Meanwhile Cornwall’s first lady, Newquay, denies everything and is understandably bruised by the allegations, as well as being concerned for her children on the beach and the effect such rumours are having on them. Come on, Cornwall and Newquay deserve a break; if the press doesn’t stop the pressure on them they’ll each be in need of a good divorce lawyer before the summer’s ended.


If you are unfamiliar with the story click here to read it at Times Online

Friday, 3 August 2007

HOLIDAYMAKER RETURNS





Back from the slow pace of Mediterranean life I have been plummeted into what feels like the inside of a food processor, with only a feeble overgrilled body and a malfunctioning brain stuck in holiday-mode to help me cope.
Needless to say, I’m suffering from a cold (an allergy to my return to the UK no doubt) and my To Do List, before I even peep in the office, includes: chauffeuring Apprentice and Outdoor Men to a marina 50 miles away; taking the guinea pig to have its claws trimmed; arranging for the boiler to be serviced; tidying the house so the cleaner can get in; washing all our holiday clothes; reading the mountain of junk mail that’s been pushed through the letterbox; unravelling my vegetable patch from beneath a mountain of weeds; restocking the fridge; telephoning everyone to catch up with everything, whilst returning all the messages left on the answerphone. As for after lunch…

If the aftermath of a holiday is so stressful, imagine what the fall-out from divorce or separation must feel like!

Whilst I’ve been away I see that the Law Commission has left it until peak holiday season to publish its report entitled “Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown”.
Resolution has long been campaigning for the introduction of new laws which would apply to couples who have been living together for two years or more, unless there are children, when there should be no minimum period. As the Law Commission’s Report acknowledges, cohabitation outside of marriage has become increasingly prevalent in England & Wales over recent decades and is expected to become more prevalent in the future. Shame then that Parliament has failed for so long to pass legislation to alleviate the suffering caused when unmarried families break up and how many more decades will it take to act on the Commission’s recommendations?