Friday, 28 November 2008

CELLULOID MOMENTS


If your partner has cheated on you, a trip to the cinema tonight may not be the best distraction:
“I’ve Loved you so Long” (12A) but never knew you were of such “Easy Virtue” (PG) and after the “Body of Lies” (15) all I need is a “Quantum of Solace” (12A).

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

JUNGLE ESCAPE


Television these days seems to be dominated by TV competitions where the public ultimately determines who wins or leaves the contest and our screen. I can only assume that such shows take their roots from the spectacle of gladiator combat in Ancient Rome when the decision as to whether a defeated gladiator lived or died, lay in the hands of the baying crowd. Little Girl is presently very much taken by one such competition entitled “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here,” where a group of purported celebrities appear to lie around in the wet but humid Australian jungle until called upon to participate in some kind of stomach turning task, invariably involving tropical insects and reptiles or else the consumption of revolting sources of protein including strange parts from kangaroos.

I confess that I can only identify one or two of the competitors although I was surprised to see Martina Navratilova of tennis circuit fame amongst them. The Daily Mail seems to believe that she could be there because she’s lonely, following a reportedly acrimonious split from her partner after a seven year relationship. From what I've seen, however, anyone feeling down and alone after a break-up of whatever length should be extremely guarded if contacted to appear on a reality television programme, especially one set in the jungle. Forging friendships with stink bugs, cockroaches and snakes can hardly be the perfect antidote to loneliness; try meeting people closer to home instead and if you really do fancy getting closer to nature what about dog walking in the countryside; it has to be better for your health and well-being.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

IN MEMORIAM

Our elderly guinea pig died this week. Both Outdoor and Apprentice Men dug a hole at the bottom of the garden this weekend, so that we could bury him today. In the meantime Fuzzball, as he was known, has been lying in state in the garage, inside a shoebox lined with lace. Outdoor Man hadn’t wanted to dig the grave during the week, when the only times would have been before or after work. He was concerned lest, as the husband of a divorce lawyer, the neighbours might suspect the worst. “After all, they hardly expect we’d divorce like everyone else,” he explained. “As soon as I start digging a hole in the dark, they’ll be round here quizzing me about your health and safety!” Yes my husband does have a macabre sense of humour, but just in case there is any truth in the theory, maybe I’d better make a mental note to check on absent colleagues in future.

The trouble with death is that whilst we know it will happen one day, we never know when. That’s why I advise clients to make or change their wills as soon as possible. Whilst divorcing couples don’t necessarily make a habit of dying before completing the process it’s always prudent to have paperwork in order.

Once upon a time I received a letter from a client whose divorce I had just concluded, telling me that she intended to contact our wills department as I’d originally advised and in the meantime had been in touch with her pension scheme managers to nominate payment of her death in service benefit and had given them my firm’s contact details. A couple of years later I heard from the same scheme managers asking for my bank details as the client had died unexpectedly and wanted me to receive her death in service lump sum benefit valued at three times her annual salary. Obviously there had to be a mistake; no matter how good a job I had done for her, I did not believe that I could have been the intended beneficiary. Despite the letter that the client had written to me, there was no will and I extracted my old file to re-read the correspondence. It had clearly been the client’s intention for her two children to benefit and she also believed that she had done no more than pass my firm’s contact details to her pension administrator. Fortunately we were able to sort this, but how much easier if the paperwork had been in order.

Monday, 17 November 2008

CONSERVATIVE POLICY


The Conservative Party risks getting its policy on cohabiting couples badly wrong, judging by the proposals on family law announced this week by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. Denying legal protection to couples who live together, however, is no way to strengthen the institution of marriage. The fact is that governments have a responsibility to make law based on society as it actually is, and the number of couples living together in the UK continues to increase. Governments should also ensure legal protection for the vulnerable.

Members of Resolution regularly see the injustice suffered when the relationships of cohabiting couples break down. Even after decades together, many people find themselves homeless and facing real financial hardship. This is fuelled by a widely-held misconception that cohabiting couples have “common law” rights combined with existing law that is unclear and inadequate.

That’s why Resolution wants a new law to protect cohabiting couples and hopes that the Government will support Lord Lester’s ‘Cohabitation Bill’ which he will be introducing in the Lords in December, aimed at giving rights to couples who live together.

Friday, 14 November 2008

VIRTUALLY DIVORCED


CORN furniture store 22
Originally uploaded by
Linden Lab


I confess that I don’t understand the fascination of virtual reality games. “What’s wrong with real life,” I find myself screaming. Little Girl and her friends, however, enjoy playing with Sims and I now learn that for adults addicted to the online world there are sites such as “Second Life”. There you create an avatar and then presumably live either a mirror image of your own life or, if you have the imagination, a totally different one. The website itself claims to offer “a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents..(which).. has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe.”

A real life London couple are reported today as divorcing because of the antics of the husband’s avatar. It seems it has been found indulging in extra-marital relations with a female avatar and both the real and virtual wives have taken umbrage. So much so that the real wife has spoken to the press and is quoted as describing the actions of her husband’s avatar as the “ultimate betrayal” and “cheating.”

Mind much can be explained by the names of the avatars involved. The wife’s was called Skye, leading one to assume that she could go round with her head in the clouds. The husband’s was called Barmy, which could well have summed up his whole view of virtual life, especially as the husband himself has purportedly said that it’s “a big fuss about nothing.”

Of course, if virtual break-ups are to become commonplace I am wondering if there’s any scope for me to get involved. I was thinking of an avatar called Miss Fortune offering virtual sympathy and divorce. However, I’ve since read that the wife has found a new relationship playing “World of Warcraft” so maybe I should just think about opening a firm in a virtual Anderson shelter under the style of Armageddon and Phoenix.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED


Today I had cause to return a faulty electrical item to a major high street store. No questions asked, the shop assistant obligingly took back the broken appliance now 6 months old and handed me a new one. It had of course come with a warranty guaranteeing it to be free of defects for 24 months and offering a replacement if it wasn’t. All of which reminds me of the client who once upon a time asked me how she could invoke the guarantee under her marriage certificate. It seemed she didn’t particularly want a divorce but was looking instead to return her husband and get a substitute in his place. Interestingly she wasn’t bothered about a younger model either; something pretty much the same would do fine, she explained. When I advised that marriage didn’t work like that she chuckled and told me she’d had her doubts but as the certificate was the same colour and lay-out as the one she was given for her double-glazing, she thought it was worth a try.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

FIREWORKS


This evening my peace has been interrupted by loud bangs as the sky has been lit up by fireworks. At first I thought we could actually see and hear the celebrations on the other side of the Atlantic; congratulations America, by the way, on your electoral outcome. It has however now dawned on me that tonight is of course the evening that we celebrate the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot and the foiling of the plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament way back in 1605. Now of course in those days this could hardly be described as a victory for democracy when there were no elections anyway and the plot was hatched with the sole aim of killing the King when he visited Parliament for the state opening along with as many members of his family and the Protestant aristocracy as possible. Still it provides this country with a cause to celebrate with pyrotechnics and as result there cannot be a man, woman or child in the UK today who does not know what a firework looks and sounds like when it explodes in the sky. So much so that clients regularly use such terminology to describe the behaviour of their spouses: light the touch paper and he goes off like a rocket; she just explodes like a Roman Candle; she’s a right little firecracker when she starts; or, and I never did understand this, it’s as though he spins round and round like a Catherine Wheel!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

FLUSHED WITH SUCCESS


At the moment it is very difficult if you want to separate from your partner but are unable to move out and on until your property sells. The housing market seems to have ground to a very definite stop especially at what traditionally has always been a slow time of the year anyway. Imagine therefore my dismay to return from holiday and realise that I had missed one of the biggest sale success stories of recent times. It seems that a public convenience in Walham Green London sold at auction for more than 4 times its original guide price! Is there a moral here? If you want to sell your house should you try living in the bathroom? Or what about seeking planning permission to turn your des res into a toilet block?

Sunday, 2 November 2008

GOING BACK


I am just back from my first sustained period of sunshine this year. Yes a whole 7 days of it! Mind I had to go all the way to the Canary Islands to find it. It’s true that sometimes you have to leave home to find whatever it is that you are looking for. In my case there was no problem in returning as the whole family went and came back with me. Leaving and then returning, however, isn’t necessarily always so easy.