Beloved And Bonk: Diary of a divorce

We've been to France, Bunny, Buster and me, in a last-minute dash before the weather finally dissolves into terminal grey for the winter. This may seem like no big deal to you, but I managed to get my underwear into a good approximation of a reef knot before we left, because it was the first time I had taken the kids abroad on my own.

It's not that I was bothered about the language barrier - I can remember all 20 words of my O-level French, so I'm practically fluent. It was the driving on the other side of the road that worried me.

When Beloved and I used to go on holiday to France, he did the driving. Because with him twitching in the passenger seat, and stiffening every time I went round a corner, I began to believe that I was far too emotionally unstable to drive anywhere but down deserted country lanes in dear old Blighty. And only then with someone walking in front with a red flag. Driving Abroad became something that only Terribly Successful People who could have passed the co-ordination tests to become RAF fighter pilots were capable of. The fact that ancient French persons with single eyes, wooden legs and three goats on the passenger seat seemed to manage it totally escaped me.

So by the time we drove off the ferry into a bright, sparkly French autumn, I had Bunny and Buster chanting "right hand side, right hand side" in the back seat in case I suddenly lost my marbles, drove on the left and killed us all (thereby proving to Beloved that I truly wasn't safe out on my own).

But I didn't. I just tootled off the ferry and on down the road, just as if it were something everybody did every day. "Oh," I thought, "driving. Like what I do all the time. Hundreds of miles of it. Only on the other side of the road."

That's how I discovered that I could have been a) Very Successful or b) an RAF test pilot. Which made me extremely happy, and I zoomed off through the countryside taking in freshly ploughed fields and dinky Breton houses, and feeling full of new confidence and a conviction that I could drive to Vladivostok if I wanted. I began to plan selling the house and setting off around the world for the next 10 years, with Bunny and Buster as travelling companions. Perhaps we could even take a film crew and that nice Mr Palin with us.

Ridiculously buoyed up by my discovery of a missed career in jet planes, I brilliantly negotiated all the little tests of a French holiday. I found where to turn on the water outside our gite; I got the heavy shutters off the windows; I used all 20 of my French words in one visit to the supermarche. We really began to enjoy ourselves, cycling to the village to buy croissants, ordering chocolate ice-creams and coffee at cafes, scrounging at street markets. For the first time since Beloved bunked off, the three of us felt like something approaching a unit, rather than three bruised cabbages thrust into a dark sack.

That's about when I started seeing Beloved and Bonk. On first sighting they were drinking wine at a seaside brasserie; then I saw them pushing a supermarche trolley together; after that they were regularly spotted in cars beside us at junctions and traffic lights. It took me a couple of days to work out that I wasn't hallucinating. It was just that every French man and his beautiful, chic wife looked just like them.

I lost it in a big way after that. All the Breton houses and their jolly red remnants of summer geraniums stopped being cute and started being irritating. Cooking on a single gas ring lost the charm of peasant simplicity and began to be a bloody hopeless way to feed two kids. Even the shower got on the at risk register when idiosyncratic spurts of cold amidst the hot had me nearly pulling the entire unit off the wall.

Within two days the kids were reduced to silent fear inside the car while I drove to the next tourist spot wondering if British Consulates still existed, and if so would they take children for a couple of hours while their parent went off and lay on a railway line.

Only the ferry home redeemed the holiday from being a week's worth of miserable memories. It was full of homely, cardiganed Britons and their Crimplened wives. Not a Beloved or Bonk lookalike in sight. The sea was like a piece of stretched cling film, and we ate patisserie out on deck in lemon-juice sunshine. Hey, I thought, I've been travelling with my kids. Vladivostok here we come.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice