Thursday, 28 February 2008


It was announced today that Japan’s mobile phone company, SoftBank Mobile, will soon be offering the opportunity to buy a robotic cell phone with moving joints and the ability to hold conversations with you, in addition to its conventional use as a telephone. Wow this could be a real life-line for those marriages which purportedly fail because he would never communicate or she would never stop talking. Now he won’t need to answer and she’ll have something that will!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008


It was two weeks ago when, travelling up the mountain in a chairlift with Apprentice Man, he pointed out to me the snow blowing from the top with the sun behind. He declared it to be a magnificent sight, remarking how it looked like fire and continued in glowing terms about what he believed to resemble orange flames. Mystified, I could only see white powder against a blue sky. Then it dawned and I asked if the tint on the lens of his goggles could have anything to do with it. Instantly, his illusions were shattered.

It reminded me of a time when, looking across to the opposite side of the valley, I pointed out to my family a pair of skiers descending in perfect formation, each accurately mirroring the other’s moves. The family appeared bemused and it was clear that it could not see the amazing feat I was witnessing, insisting that I was watching a lone descent. I was puzzled but when I looked up to the sky and saw pairs of birds synchronising their flights too, it was evident that I had a problem with my eyesight that I’d never previously been aware of.

So it is that two people, even when they examine the same scene or object don’t necessarily see the same thing, and sometimes don’t even want to. I know this because secretly I love staring at skiers in the distance without my prescription glasses and so am able to enjoy the beauty of the skier and his imaginary partner coming down the mountainside in perfect harmony

Saturday, 23 February 2008


Young Moors in Mexico, Michoacan
Originally uploaded by

Reuters reported contradictory proposals in Mexico yesterday. (Click here) Apparently it too is suffering from the global rise in the divorce rate which has now reached the giddy heights of 3 in 10. As a result one politician there wants to legitimise pre-nuptial agreements to make divorce settlements easier. At the same time however and concerned about the vast sums spent on wedding celebrations where increasingly one of the couple fails to show, he also wants to make the agreement to marry a binding contract.

It seems to me that it would be foolish to make one of these reforms without the other. Faced with the prospect of paying out sums in compensation if they don’t get to the altar as arranged, I anticipate that the divorce rate might just climb higher but, with a pre-nup, at least they will have already undertaken the damage limitation exercise. More work for the lawyers too with compensation claims and pre-marital agreements to draft!

Thursday, 21 February 2008


I don’t believe in astrology but can never resist reading my horoscope when I spot it. Today I came across this offering and thought it was worth sharing:

Bring things down to earth today. Get yourself grounded and enjoy the day. You will find that the more you slow down and adopt a caring, sensitive, receptive attitude, the more things will be naturally flowing your way. This is not a day to fight. It is a day to connect with others on a symbiotic level. Nurture yourself and others. Get a massage and snuggle up close to those you love.

Mind if you are inclined to believe in this sort of thing, this example will only work if you are a Pisces.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Recently I blogged about “the rat”, a term used repeatedly by clients to describe their husbands. Another name frequently used is “the witch” usually reserved for the other woman, although sadly I have known some men refer to their ex-wives as such also.

In Austria, tradition has loaned itself to a ceremony for disposing of the witch who has come to represent the cold and harshness associated with winter months. At least that is how I understood the explanation given to me of the parade we witnessed through Stuben one evening last week. It was led by a band to a point on the piste where a bonfire was lit and fireworks set off. Reminiscent of our own Guy Fawkes Night a witch was duly burnt, although fortunately she was constructed from a pine tree.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I have a dislike for T bars (those ski lifts where you supposedly lean back with your nearest and dearest, or sometimes the next stranger in the queue, and let the bar which fits anywhere behind your buttocks to your knees drag you up the slope). Indeed I have a phobia, which I claim to be perfectly understandable, about one T bar in particular.

Most years we spend some time in the village of Stuben in the Arlberg, from where St Anton is an easy ski. To connect to the main ski lift there are two choices, the T bar about which I have the phobia, or a moving conveyor belt. My phobia arose 4 or 5 years ago when, on attempting to detach myself from the said T bar, it caught itself under the hem of my jacket. The lift operator’s attention was clearly elsewhere at the time because I was dragged onwards, hanging from a point near my waist with legs, arms skis and poles flailing beneath me, until the lift was stopped and I fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. Hence, without question I now take the moving belt.

Last week, however, in my efforts to meet Outdoor Man at the top, I was unable to get my skis to grip the rolling rubber and, attempting to dig in with my edges, I toppled over. In so doing I not only tripped the conveyor but probably blew a fuse. Either way the belt was out of action for 10 minutes or more, causing those ahead of me to suffer the discomfort of walking to the top or else skiing back down to take the dreaded T bar.

I became the clear object of derision; the scourge of the slopes; the woman who had spoiled their day. Donned in a purple suit and my bright yellow hat, there was little I could do to blend into the white snowy background. Instead I was a solitary, scorned and ridiculed figure.

Whilst my family sought to come to my rescue, offering to ski elsewhere to avoid my dilemma, I could see from their faces the pain with which such offer was made. Outdoor Man suggested that we go for a drink but I protested inferring that I was spoiling the plans for the day and that instead I should retire to the nearest hostelry alone. It was evident from the speed with which Apprentice Man hurried to release my bindings that he thought this an excellent idea.

“I’ll have to stay with the kids, I can’t leave them,” muttered Outdoor Man apologetically. So, one little misdemeanour, one silly mistake and I was all alone, with only my transgression to dwell on.

Monday, 18 February 2008


Despite very occasional altercations with T Bars, I regard myself as a competent skier. I accept, however, that I have no ambition to ascend to the tops of peaks using skis and skins like Outdoor and Apprentice Men, but even so I can get down anything pisted intact and with skis parallel. That my ability is unappreciated by those closest to me is somewhat obvious, especially now that Little Girl can descend faster than me.

The fact that I overtake many and more on the way down is irrelevant. I am simply unable to ski as fast as the rest of my family and have become the subject of the children’s jokes; the years spent nurturing their prowess forgotten. Instead and until either old age or an injury catches up with Outdoor Man, I am destined to bring up the rear, wearing a luminous yellow hat so that I can be easily spotted from afar and not because it is either fetching or suits my complexion.

Dismissed as boring, not seriously hard core or even “uncool” must be the plight of many women of a certain age, on both the ski-slopes and elsewhere. No wonder that so many resort to employing the services of a younger, good–looking, sun-tanned ski instructor.

Family you are being warned. I shall not be carrying the lip-salve, camera, euros, time or any other provisions you desire next time we ski. No, next time I’ll be off with Helmut or Stefan.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


“A rat” is a term used frequently by clients, usually female clients, to describe their spouses to me. The image conjured up is always of someone who has been underhanded or deceitful. So it is that today the Chinese celebrate their New Year and with it the beginning of the Year of the Rat. I wonder, does this mean an influx of fraud, dishonesty and cheating? I decided to check with a Chinese zodiac and learned that “On the whole, this will be a happier year than most: free from explosive events and wars….Nonetheless, it will be spicy. It promises a lot of bickering, bargaining and petty arguments.” Oh well so that term rat is going to remain in common parlance for the foreseeable future then.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


I have just finished reading “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan. It is a beautifully crafted book, with an ending I had not anticipated and at only 160 pages it is relatively short (the key to a successful book according to one of my colleagues who, I suspect, dislikes reading).

The downfall of the two protagonists lies in their inability to communicate, something they appear to regret indefinitely. An ability to communicate effectively lies at the heart of every good relationship and frequently an inability or reticence to speak up can destroy a marriage. Burying heads in the sand and suppressing feelings never resolves conflicts and eventually in anger or frustration the whole relationship can shatter, sometimes on the back of an almighty argument but other times with an enormous sulk.

On Chesil Beach, Edward and Florence fail to support and reassure each other. They fail at what they most want to achieve. Their self –pride injured, hurting and in pain, they each accuse, goad and humiliate the other. They become trapped in a dialogue over which they have no control and, responding in anger, automatically play the parts of sparring partners. Losing all self control they utter words they cannot help but which they regret forever.

Yes Florence apologises, but only as she turns and lingers before moving on. Edward fails to seize the opportunity to forgive, to support, to reassure. Pride intervenes and the opportunity to make amends or resolve the situation is lost.

Young, immature, and innocent, they are unable to respond effectively to the other or communicate their feelings. What exists between them is destroyed as a result and yet it need not have been that way, indeed it ought not to have been so.

In fiction reality is suspended. McEwan is a master of his art and even a seasoned divorce lawyer like myself didn’t foresee the devastation.

Sunday, 3 February 2008


I’m a great believer in the Pareto principle, you know the 80:20 rule, whereby 80% of effects are attributable to 20% of causes and which can be extended to apply to day to day activities. So I admit that I wear 20% of my wardrobe (the boring black suits and white blouses) 80% of the time; 80% of the dictation that I do at work is undertaken in 20% of my time in the office; 80% of the really enjoyable things that I do in my life (excluding arranging divorces for people) is done in 20% of my waking hours.

The principle operates in marriage breakdown too. So it is said that whilst 20% of married men kiss their wife goodbye as they leave the house in their car, 80% of divorced men have kissed their house and car goodbye.

This, come to think of it, explains why last week a client told me that hurricanes are named after women because they breeze in, grow wild, and then they move on, taking both the house and car.