Mistresses, take heart

Grant and Anthea are almost back together - could it be true love? asks Karen O'Brien

Hope, we know, springs eternal and there are surely few places where it is more long-lasting than in the heart that beats beneath the carefully cantilevered bosom of the Mistress. For while the limits of the situation way suit some, the majority surely live for the moment when the vice-like jaws of their man's family life will loosen just enough for them to prise him out.

So there must have been much pounding of mistressy hearts and quickening of pulses with the news that Grant Bovey - erstwhile tabloid "love rat" and paramour of Anthea Turner - and his 34-year-old wife, Della, plan to divorce. Bovey, 36, returned to his wife in April after a much-publicised 14-week affair with La Turner. Now, six months back in the marital home has proved enough to convince him that there's more to life than an eight- year marriage, three young daughters and a pounds 2m house in Sussex.

Be cynical if you like, but it looks like Grant might have gone for good this time. There is certainly a long roll call of celebrity partnerships that have sprung from the Other Woman syndrome - Ralph Fiennes and Francesca Annis, Tom Stoppard and Felicity Kendall, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffiths, to name just a few.

The warning signs were there even as the Boveys decided to try to revive their marriage. In one interview, Grant was asked whether he would ever be unfaithful again. His reply? "Hopefully I won't but I can't promise... having done what I have, there must be a slight temptation there which I hope will never surface." His insight was admirable; it's possible that he's realised his marriage is indeed over and an unhappy union that exists only for the sake of the children is doomed.

Perhaps he's stopped blaming the media for the pain inflicted on his children, and started taking responsibility for his own actions. Guilt can be effective short-term as relationship cement but the cracks will show eventually. Perhaps Grant is Bovey the Boomerang Boy - throw him away but eventually he'll always come back. What we do know is that he's made two very difficult, very public decisions about his future.

Friends of Anthea and Grant have been quick to say that the two are still in love and that they've been phoning each other constantly over the last couple of months. Grant is said to be "very anxious" about his future and desperate for a reconciliation with 38-year-old Anthea. She, we are told, is still nursing the deep pain of their split and will only take him back if she is "100 per cent confident" that things will work out.

The smart money is on them getting it together. Sentimentalists believe that Grant is simply a good man who fell out of love with his wife and in love with another woman. It's easy to be cynical about an affair that has afforded us the Schadenfreude that comes with seeing how much of a mess celebrities can make of their lives. Grant was branded a philanderer who walked out on an eight-year marriage, and Della won a lot of sympathy by fighting back. If she indulged in any woman-spurned revenge fantasies there was no sign of them and instead she did what so many of us do when we want to make major changes in our lives: she had her hair cut, bought some bright red lippy and (lucky woman) began a career in television. When her turn came for the dumped-woman makeover, Anthea dropped her clothes and draped a large snake around her naked body, for a photo spread in Tatler. Amateur Freudian analysts had a field day with the imagery.

We wait with bated breath, not just for a bloody armed conflict over Iraqi weapons inspections but to see whether Grant and Anthea will at last find true love together. Let's hope they do, and that they wander off quietly and work out a life together, enabling Della and her three children to do the same. And not just because we don't need more pages of celebs pawing each other or waging a tawdry tabloid war of attrition. But because, as TS Eliot said, to make an end, is also to make a beginning. And who among us doesn't need that?

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