As Huhne and Pryce have discovered, divorce can be a mystery to those involved – but not to the press

The days between the equal marriage bill and St Valentine's day should be a time to celebrate love; instead it's divorce that fascinates us most

Share

That ugly cawing sound, and the dark shadows wheeling over this week’s news, are caused by marriage vultures. In the days between the passing of a Bill broadening the scope of marriage and the romantic excitements around St Valentine’s Day, the vultures have been offered a feast. Thanks to a court case, and the release of thrillingly private emails, texts and taped telephone conversations, they have been able to pick over the bones of the marriage between Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce.

There are many varieties of marriage vulture online and in the press. Some have been divorced themselves and now share with the world details of how well they managed it all, or how badly, or why the end of their marriage was the best day of their lives, or the worst. Some will say they understand Chris’s position; others will admit they felt just like Vicky.

Those who have experienced the break-up of their parents’ marriage will recall how they were every bit as hurt and confused as the Huhnes’ teenage son. That great army of gabby opinionators who like to study the lives of the famous for parables of good and evil (mostly evil) will pick over the juicy titbits of bitterness and hurt, before reaching a suitably weighty conclusion.

Everybody, it seems, is an expert on what goes wrong in a marriage. Or, put another way, the miserable, sometimes grubby and often undignified events and conversations which occur when a married couple start to hate one another is now a branch of public entertainment. It is quite acceptable for intimate, shaming details to be shared with readers and viewers.

When a royal or Hollywood couple break up, lawyers and publicists can protect them. The Huhnes are easier prey. Not only has their agony been revealed in court, but as a couple they combine fame with ordinariness; their marital misery could be that of any of us.

The truth is that no one, sometimes not even the two involved, fully understands why a marriage becomes unbearable. If love is mysterious, so is the end of it. Yet increasingly, onlookers adopt the villain-or-victim attitude favoured by lawyers. If those involved are well-known, their behaviour is reviewed as carefully and brutally as any new West End production.

The end of a long-term marriage is one of life’s great tragedies – a source of rage, sadness and, above all, guilt. Those writing about their own marital failures can do so with wisdom rather than exhibitionism, but those who like to sit in judgement upon the marriages of others are playing a nasty new game.

When tweeting is a silver bullet

Here is a small but invaluable tip for those who are suffering bad service from a public utilities company: get on to Twitter. The effect is miraculous. Earlier this week, I lost telephone and internet contact with the outside world. The BT helpline repeatedly and politely told me that nothing could be done for four days. Since I rely on the internet for my daily work, it was not what I wanted to hear. I mentioned the problem, via a mobile, on Twitter. My fellow-columnist Deborah Ross suggested I contact BT through the same medium.

The result has been remarkable. I even received solicitous calls from BT staff. Quite why one form of social media should provide this advantage is a mystery, and seems vaguely unfair, but just for a change I am not complaining.

www.terenceblacker.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot