Diary of a divorce


We've now got to the stage where Professionals are being called in to dismember the body of our marriage and distribute its various limbs and organs appropriately. It's not like doing a nice neat butchery job, slice it up into hocks and hams, knuckles and trotters, two of each for both of us. No, it's more like a student dissection - pick apart one bit this week then shove the lot in formalin and swot up the next section ready for next week.

We are, to use the proper term, in the financial disclosure stage. This sounds like something vaguely racy: it makes me think of gauzy underwear, slightly soiled. (That could be the five weeks without sex of course.) In fact it's just boring... it means I have to acquaint myself with insurance policies profiles, endowment mortgage reliefs, and financial projectiles. It means knowing exactly how much I spent last month at the garden centre. All things which I thought were the reason for having a conscientious husband who spent Sunday nights doing the bills - so I didn't have to think about them. Like I don't have to think about how to open the bonnet of my car because I know where the garage is.

Of course, as part of my new found freedom, I have to examine all the bills including those for the phone. I realise that, for the last several months, Beloved's bill-paying on Sunday nights has been a secondary activity to calling Bonk .... every 3 minutes from 10pm to midnight in 30 second bursts of passion interrupted by me carrying washing up and down stairs. They did get one phone call that wasn't coitus interruptus ... 93 minutes late one night. He must have hosed down the phone and steam-cleaned the orthopaedic desk chair before I woke up the next morning.

It does of course suggest that we are in the presence of genuine passion here, not just two people colluding with Bob Hoskins. I mean, I've never been on the phone for 93 minutes to anyone, ever. Not even when my mate Jenny used to describe what she'd been doing with her boyfriend in the back of his car, in enormous detail. As I was doing A level biology at the time, I was qualified to tell her whether any of it would make her pregnant. Considering where the sperm went (and how much of it there was) I'm surprised it didn't make his mother pregnant when she sat in the driver's seat the next morning.

Anyway, an hour and a half on the phone tells me that Beloved and Bonk are truly hot. And seeing it there listed on a BT bill made it all terribly real. I thought I'd got over the carpet chewing stage but ,a minute after spotting that little item on the page Bunny, my daughter, was on the phone to our neighbour: "Mummy's lying on the floor making a funny noise.Can you come round?"

The reality factor is the worst bit of all the form-filling involved in this bloody divorce business. Seeing the whole of the last 20 years of my life summarised in a couple of columns of sums and a sheet or two of sparsely-covered A4 is enough to get me right back to winning the Juliet Stevenson Shield for Emotional Expression every time I crawl in through the door of the lawyer's office.

Luckily my lawyer is a tough cookie: an American gal who could whip the nylons off her beautiful legs to mend a puncture and do a tracheotomy with a biro. Sometimes I think I want her babies.

She understands all about endowment profile policy insurance projectiles, (and she now knows how I indulged myself with two new varieties of peony and a chic pair of secateurs). She spots it when Beloved is about to do something sneaky and prevents me from telling him to put his money where the sun won't shine. Because, of course, that's what I want to do ... if I can't have him as my husband I want him and everything to do with him from joint account to hire purchase agreement to be beamed up to Alpha Centauri. Sadly I can't afford the luxury of severing myself from Beloved as if he were a gangrenous limb, because having spent the last several years fitting work between making chocolate cakes with Smarties on top and reading the entire Narnia series out loud, my earning power is somewhat impaired. So I have to think of my erstwhile lover and friend as nothing more than a meal ticket.

Unless of course my current efforts to give my career the kiss of life actually work, and I suddenly become terrifically successful. This is a most cheering fantasy (along with haemorrhoids for Bonk). I take Beloved out to lunch, picking him up in my Saab soft-top convertible, dressed entirely in Nicole Fahri (does she make knickers, I wonder?) I listen sympathetically to the tale of his failed relationship and ruined career. I take him home, drop him at the door and drive off (having discreetly slipped him pounds 20). And without even looking in the mirror I know he is standing in the road, watching longingly as I disappear.

Ah ... I think I may have just found a substitute for sex.

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