Monday, 30 June 2008

GOING, GOING, GONE


E-bay bids finally closed yesterday for the life of Ian Usher, the rug salesman in Perth, Western Australia. He took the brave move of putting all his possessions (including his house, access to his friends and a trial with his employer for his job) up for sale after splitting from his wife. The highest genuine bid, however, was apparently only A$399,300 (£192,300) which is purportedly some A$20,000 less than his house alone is worth. Newspapers today however proclaimed Mr Usher to be satisfied with the deal although he concedes in his blog that the price was lower than expected
Strange how some divorcees can be happy to effectively give away articles of value to complete strangers whilst others moan continuously if a court tells them to give them to their spouse. Mr Usher of course had the benefit of what he declares was “an amazing and fun experience.” Now that’s not something I’ve ever heard a court imposed clean break described as.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

MISSING HIM


So Tony Blair has been gone a year and on Radio Two at lunchtime on Friday the track from this You Tube video was being played. Can you imagine how that little girl would have felt if it had been her father rather than the Prime Minister who was departing?

Thursday, 26 June 2008

FATIGUED


I have had a very busy month and am absolutely worn out. Fortunately I am taking a day off tomorrow; my first since March. Going through a separation, especially if it results in a messy divorce, invariably leaves clients stressed and fatigued. Imagine how tiring it can be for their solicitor, involved in a hundred or more divorces at once!

Monday, 23 June 2008

EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK


I have spent a large part of today immersed in securing a freezing order. There are various emergency remedies that family lawyers are required to seek from time to time. Waiting in the warm ante room with the sun beating down outside, it reminded me of an occasion when one June day once upon a time I had made an application for a similar order in relation to the entire contents of a house. My client, unable to bear the stresses of living in the same property as her husband with whom she was embroiled in divorce proceedings, had decided to snatch a few days respite in a guest house on the Yorkshire Coast. Whilst there she received a disturbing telephone message from a neighbour which prompted her to return home immediately. When she opened the front door, her first reaction was to assume that they had been burgled for the house had been stripped bare. There were no light fittings, carpets, radiators, or kitchen units let alone furniture or electrical appliances. Plants had even been lifted from the garden along with 2 garden gnomes. The only thing left was the kitchen sink and even the taps had gone from that. The police were called but it was the absence of the husband too, that gave away the identity of the likely culprit. He was found in the house of his new partner, which was described by those who saw it as being somewhat over furnished!

Friday, 20 June 2008

LOYALTY


One of my colleagues, Fred Burton, retired this week, after 72 years since he first joined the staff way back in 1936 . Save for a period of service with the RAF during the Second World War, his employment has been continuous, albeit in latter years devoted to library duties for two days per week. Now aged 88, Fred, who has been interviewed by both the Press and local TV station concerning this remarkable achievement, has accredited it to enjoying his work and the company of the other people in the office.

Fred hails from an era when loyalty to King and country as well as to family and employer were paramount. Back in 1936 and despite the publicity engendered that year by the abdication of Edward VIII in order to marry the divorcee Mrs Simpson, divorce was still pretty much an unknown concept for ordinary folk.

There is an argument that if we could rediscover the ethos of loyalty rather than the pursuit of self gratification, the divorce rate would decrease and society would be simpler and more stable. Some might even say happier. Ultimately, however, loyalty has to be earned and should be a two way process not a belief or principle generated by blind faith. That’s why employers in the 21st century have to work to retain staff and it takes both partners in a marriage to commit to and work at that union for it to remain successful.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

SEPARATING CIVILLY


So Civil Partnerships have finally come of age with the announcement today that Matt Lucas is separating from his partner Paul McGee. In what will of course be the first high-profile gay divorce the couple have asked for privacy as well as restraint by the Press. I assume of course that, unlike his character, Andy in Little Britain, who is forever running back to his wheelchair and carer as soon as he has had a little pleasure and delight, Matt Lucas will not be doing the same.


Tuesday, 17 June 2008

EMOTIONAL RESPONSES


Yesterday I blogged about the unromantic Italian gent who kidnapped his ex-girlfriend to get household chores done. Today I have had my attention drawn to this story from South Korea, where another jilted gent decided to sue his ex for the money he had spent dating her. Well at least it shows that mean spiritedness is global.

Anyway it seems the Japanese toy firm Sega may have come up with a solution in the form of a robot known as EMA or Eternal Maiden Actualisation. (Click here for the news report.) She goes on sale in September in a marketing drive that is going to be aimed at lonely adult men. She is described as sweet and interactive, kissing on command. She also sings, dances and hands out business cards. It doesn’t look as though she does the washing and ironing, but apart from her initial price tag of approximately £90, there shouldn’t be any need to incur the cost of bouquets of roses or other love tokens in seeking to woo her.

Monday, 16 June 2008

DOMESTIC SERVICE


Reuters today reported that an Italian man has been arrested for kidnapping his former girlfriend. (Click here for the full story). Apparently he took her back to his home and forced her to wash up and iron for him. In England Northern men, as epitomised by Andy Capp, are reputed for their lack of skills on the domestic front and there’s many a woman I’ve advised who feels that she has become no more than an unpaid skivvy. That said I would struggle to recall a case so blatantly chauvinistic as this one, and to think I thought Italians were famed for their irresistible romantic charm!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

ALTER EGO


Apprentice Man was running in the North Yorkshire Schools’ Athletics Championships yesterday. He must have been fast because he is now to represent the County at 100 metres in the Regional Tournament next week. It’s strange how people can be very different in their domestic and personal lives to how they appear to others. My own experience of Apprentice Man is that he is invariably slow, especially when it comes to getting out of bed or dashing for the school bus.

Sometimes after a particularly acrimonious divorce clients are tempted to divulge all and try to tell the world at large about their spouse’s “dark side.” I’m not sure that it’s the best of tactics and it frequently reflects on the avenger rather than the avenged. Hence I went shopping yesterday afternoon, in preference to standing in the middle of the stadium yelling “tortoise.”

Thursday, 12 June 2008

WILL IT RAIN OR WILL IT NOT?


Constance has been on the phone again. At the beginning of the week, she walked home from work chatting to the latest man in her life, in a steamy temperature of 26 degrees. It seems they were getting along really well, and she was convinced he must like a woman prepared for all eventualities, hence the umbrella and coat she was carrying. Yesterday the atmosphere was cooler, both within the relationship and outside. Today it had dropped by more than 10 degrees and she found herself wrong-footed both in her choice of clothing (skimpy top and cotton skirt) and boyfriend’s mood. Any wonder we can’t get our relationships right when we can’t even cope with the climate?

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

EURO 2008


I thought that this summer I might be spared the soccer spectacular which is Euro 2008. With no British team qualifying surely it could hold little or no interest to either Apprentice or Outdoor Man. It seems I was wrong and loyalties have been quickly switched after the allocation of teams from a sweepstake.

It’s funny how regular events bring back memories. In the case of the Euro Soccer competition, it seems to have accorded with Apprentice Man’s swift growth from infant to semi-adult. Indeed I can still remember his excitement at the age of 5 when we let him stay up until the late, late hour of 8pm to watch England play. Eight years ago, we had only just moved into our present home and my memories of the boys gathered around the television set are mingled with the smell of fresh paint.

Major events like sporting competitions or family celebrations such as birthdays and at Christmas, are great for setting memories into a time frame. It’s a technique that I often suggest to clients if I need them to prepare a statement, for instance for the drafting of a divorce petition where a chronological sequence of behaviour is often required. Invariably if the client does not keep a diary (and how many Samuel Pepys are there left these days?) the ability to recall the detail sought and then put a date to it is hindered. By trying to work out if it was before or after a specific event that can be date checked, we can begin to piece together something accurate.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

BURYING ONE'S HEAD IN THE SAND


It has been a glorious, balmy June weekend and regrettably I have spent the greater part of it indoors doing office work. I have various court hearings in the next two weeks and there is a mountain of paperwork and other preparations that have to be undertaken. I know that many of my clients will have been doing the same. Once a court application for financial relief is issued, there is a strict timetable to comply with for the production of various documents and fortunately, most of the time, everyone involved is able to comply.

Sometimes, however, we come across an ostrich. “This isn’t happening to me,” he or she says.

“I’m not ready; it’s unfair; I can’t be bothered; it wasn’t my fault,” he or she mumbles as they bury their head in the sand.

Unfortunately ostriches rarely believe that courts have teeth and that Judges are not afraid to bare them. Default in collating and producing documents or complying in other ways invariably ends up in a wasted costs order against the ostrich and can result in a short prison sentence for contempt too.

Although the victims of circumstance, it’s always hard to feel sorry for an ostrich. Reminiscent of picnics on the beach, sand must get in its eyes and mouth, but, nevertheless, it would be well advised to keep its neck stretched and alert once court proceedings are served on it.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

ROMEO ET JULIETTE


On Tuesday evening I went to the theatre in the company of other family lawyers to see a performance of the opera Romeo et Juliette in French. It was a compelling production, with a monochrome background and costumes broken only by the occasional orange orb and patch of green grass. The whole effect was funereal and the experience was one of being submersed in a completely different “art” experience.

The costumes were contemporary and the well-known storyline portrayed a childish and innocent love, moving from Juliette teasing her nanny to asking the first man to smile in her direction to marry her. Love at first sight. Of course as a group of cynical divorce lawyers, we could only anticipate the work that would flood in if everyone behaved in such an impulsive manner. Or would it? Not if, as in this story, it ended with a bottle of poison and a dagger to the stomach, thus ending the lives of both protagonists. It would take William Shakespeare to pen something better, or Mills & Boon!

Monday, 2 June 2008

DIVORCE PROMOTION

In what has become a celebrity obsessed culture, I’m told that our children now believe that talent manifests itself in an ability to sing or kick a football rather than excel in other areas including academically. Whilst I can’t claim to have any genuine interest in the lives and achievements of purported celebrities, I do confess to reading trashy magazines in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting areas and as you will be well aware of repeating alleged quotes in this blog. However, I have come to the conclusion that the one person I would never hire to promote my business would be a celebrity divorcee. They only seem to give one line metaphors painting a picture of horror and pain.

Recently I reported Robin Williams’ comment about divorce being like “circumcision with a weed whacker”. Today I read that Alec Baldwin, the actor who came to fame in The Hunt for Red October and who was until 2002 married to Kim Basinger, is releasing a book to help couples through divorce, in which he describes the process as like “being tied to a pick up truck and dragged down a gravel road.” Imagine trying to advertise my services using that as a commendation!