Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Amongst the tributes paid this week to the late Paul Newman, I heard that in talking about his longstanding and devoted relationship with his wife, he was known to have expressed the view that there is no point going out for a hamburger when you can stay in and have steak instead. I understand that he wasn’t actually talking about food either.

As a divorce lawyer I can certainly say that I deal daily in cases where clients have gone for the hamburger option instead. Whether they’re any happier as a result I don’t know, though I suspect the McDonald’s and Burger King Empires might be.

Monday, 29 September 2008


I have just got back from a weekend in Venice. Flying into Marco Polo airport we were able to make out various landmarks from the sky, which helped to put our destination into perspective. It didn’t help us, however, when down at ground level we found ourselves lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets, criss-crossing the canal system. It’s the same when calamity strikes. Caught up in the midst of the crossfire, it’s hard to see a way to deal with the problem let alone analyse its causes. Put some distance between you and it, and gradually everything can be brought into perspective.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


Media coverage this week of redundant employees leaving their workplaces with personal possessions in cardboard boxes was reminiscent of the situation so many clients find themselves in. Frequently they opt to move out hastily taking only what they can carry with them and decisions have to be made about what they leave behind. Indeed I’m regularly asked what the potential departer should take in such circumstances. Invariably my advice suggests those items of sentimental value that cannot be replaced.

Once upon a time however a client called Pandora chose to vacate her home of 22 years at 8 o’clock one morning, immediately she had eaten her breakfast. In her haste to get away, however, she left all her worldly goods behind, including a box she had carefully packed and placed on the table in front of her. When she came to see me, she was distraught and I duly wrote to her husband’s solicitor proposing that the box which my client had left on the table be delivered to my office.
Three days later a package arrived.
“I wonder what’s in there,” mused my secretary as she gave the box a shake and the package responded with a rustling noise.

I telephoned Pandora who dashed down to collect her belongings. In her impatience, she ripped off the wrapping in my presence to reveal…………… a box of cornflakes from the breakfast table! Somehow I don’t think it was what she was expecting, though she had to concede it had been on the table when she left. On my part this episode has always given a completely different meaning to the expression “Pandora’s Box.”

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Many people, whether they realise it or not, map out their lives. High achievers begin to do it at school as they plan their A’ level studies, choose universities and career paths, linking these in turn with relationships, marriage and children. Others give higher priority to domestic plans; indeed my friend Constance regularly boasts that she achieved her main ambition by marrying at 24. Understandably divorce never figured in her plans. “That was the unexpected bit,” Constance says.

We like to feel that we are in control of our lives and then something calamitous happens to challenge all those presumptions and the natural order of things as we had understood them to be. Not everyone can cope with the unexpected like Constance. “I guess I just like feeling and behaving in a totally dysfunctional manner,” she’s told me. For most people, however, it’s scary when their neatly ordered existence begins to spiral out of control.

Thanks therefore to Soul Mating for listing 50 divorce blogs to find comfort and help in hard times. Constance too is beginning to get her life back into order. Apparently she even made a will last week and reckons that next week she’s going to plan her funeral service and wants to know if I’ll say a few words. “Not if I’m 107 and don’t have any teeth,” I’ve told her.

Seriously though we never know what’s round the corner and that’s also why a group of my colleagues has organised a free session offering advice on how to plan for a secure and happy future; somehow I don’t think many employees from Lehman Brothers will be attending.

Monday, 15 September 2008


When stressed or depressed wisdom dictates that we need to look after ourselves. So it is that Spa Days with mud baths and massages have grown in popularity and are highly promoted as a means of inducing personal well-being.

Yesterday in the company of a group of friends, I had the pleasure of a walk in the Eden Valley. Whilst the weather was kind, conditions underfoot were affected by the weeks of dismal rain we’ve been enduring. Squish, squash, squelch, squelch was the order of the day. Needless to say I fell in it, got my leg stuck in it and was generally covered in mud when we were finished. Now I don’t suppose that mud did much to cleanse my pores or moisturise my skin, but at the end of the day I had a radiant complexion and felt totally de-stressed and fitter than when I had set off. What’s more all the exercise and fresh air ensured that I enjoyed a long and peaceful night’s sleep.

As an alternative therapy muddy walks in the countryside have to be recommended and, unlike many spa treatments, don’t cost a penny!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


The President of the Spelling Society, John Wells the Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College, London, is reportedly calling for the English language’s strict rules of spelling and grammar to be relaxed. He favours greater freedom and believes that the English used in text messaging and e-mails is leading the way forward.


Monday, 8 September 2008


The UK’s first ever Wife Carrying Championships took place at the weekend in Northern Ireland. According to Wikipedia the sport was introduced in Finland but has since spread to Estonia, the USA and Canada and now it seems here as well. There is an International Wife Carrying Rules Committee and this has provided that the track must be a mix of sand, grass and gravel; be 253.5 metres in length and contain two dry obstacles and one wet one. Also the wife must be at least 49 kilograms in weight and, somewhat disturbingly, need not be the carrier’s own wife but could be his neighbour’s or even unmarried. Whatever the relationship, several were reportedly dropped on the ground at the weekend, not least when couples attempted the water jump. Oh well it’s gratifying to learn that divorce and separation aren’t the only way wives get dumped these days!

Thursday, 4 September 2008


The results of a survey by Petplan which insures dogs and cats in America were released today. It disclosed some interesting statistics including the fact that over 66% of those participating would rather share a desert island with their pet than their partner, and some 70% sleep with their pets! So what did I learn from that? America is a country full of unhappily married people perhaps or alternatively I could have a much more satisfying relationship with Little Girl’s guinea pig than Outdoor Man?

Curiously I don’t think it asked how many would divorce their cat, dog or guinea pig if they could.