As Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne have discovered, low-level bickering beats full-scale revenge

Plus: Harry Hill's return, Man-free zones and the saga of the billionaire's basement

When a marriage deteriorates into a war, is revenge appropriate? By my standards, Vicky Pryce was treated shabbily by her husband, who she says cheated on her not once, but twice, in spite of having used their family unit to further his political ambitions, posing with her and the kids while campaigning. To rub salt into the wound, he dumped Vicky for a female colleague who had visited the family home. Surely, though she says not, revenge must have been on Ms Pryce's mind when she took the decision to reveal to a journalist that she'd taken her errant husband's penalty points for speeding.

Other wronged wives have cut up their husband's clothes, chucked their belongings into the street, crashed their expensive cars and run up huge bills on their credit cards. Did these women feel any better at the end of it? I don't think so. Wanting revenge is like a canker. And when kids are involved, it can fester into a virus that infects everyone, demonstrated by the angry phone texts between Huhne and his distraught son. When adults are in dispute, each parent will present their version of events to the children, hoping to win their backing in the war of attrition.

Sadly, a lot of women are in the same position as Ms Pryce. They work hard, balancing their family and career, only to be dumped for a younger replacement. It's a grim fact of life. I can see why a woman in this position would seek revenge, partly because you feel a bit of a fool for being intelligent and successful, yet not spotting the lying and deception. Being gullible is embarrassing. But, surely, the best revenge is to move on, to cauterise this second-division person from your life? To be dignified, and above all, silent, something Ms Pryce, for all her IQ, seems to find difficult. If these men are such shits, why choose them in the first place? Public acts of revenge reveal more about you than the character defects of your lacklustre ex-spouse. I never looked on any of my marriages as failures, but as relationships that had reached their sell-by date. Blame is a bit draining.

But is there a way to stay together when things get bumpy? A new study proposes we should complete an "audit" of our marriage and write out our arguments from a "neutral" perspective. Looking at disagreements in a dispassionate way is supposedly the way to marital bliss. I live in a daily climate of low-level bickering, and have been with my partner for longer than any of my marriages lasted. If we had to dissect major rows (about one a week) we'd have another about what time should be set aside for this "neutral" audit. I also think most happy couples would agree that you can have too much honesty in a marriage. A slightly edited version of the truth is a more workable arrangement.

Would the Huhne marriage have lasted longer if they had had regular audits? What if (like many couples) they never had big rows to have these audits about? Constantly examining your marriage as if it's a sick dog or a drooping plant is a modern preoccupation, one I find counterproductive. As for revenge , it's very useful at work, but never tell anyone what you're plotting. It can take years to get even, but I find it's always worth it in the end.

Harry's game

Harry Hill is the only person who could persuade me to spend an evening listening to a monologue explaining in technical detail how the human digestive system works, followed by mass audience participation attempting to grab a giant

inflatable sausage. The bespectacled loon, in his trademark specs and giant white collar, is currently touring the country with Sausage Time, which pirouettes from chats in Tongan to scenes from Shakespearean tragedy, musical interludes on a ukulele and the worst ventriloquist ever, his son Gary. Gary has one big hand and one small one which, according to Harry, "makes it very difficult to teach him to tell the time". In Canterbury last week, Hill was on top form, which bodes well for the musical he's currently writing based on The X Factor, to be staged in 2014. According to Harry, Simon Cowell must be played by "someone small with a big voice". I can't wait.

Men-free zones

On the face of it, child-free zones on planes are a good idea, long overdue. How many times have you sat through a long-haul flight with a bored brat kicking the back of your seat? Worse, just as dinner arrives, have you ever experienced that pungent pong from a nappy that urgently needs changing? For £25, Air Asia plans to offer special sections for passengers over the age of 12. But isn't this just another ruse to winkle even more cash out of us? We already pay extra to reserve a seat, get legroom, and board first. We're fined if we don't print a boarding pass, and some airlines even charge for luggage. Never mind child-free zones, I'd like men-free zones. Since I sat next to a chap in a tight vest and short shorts at 6.30am on a flight to Nice, I always beg to have a woman in the next seat. Sprouting armpits and hairy legs in close proximity – ugh!


The saga of the battle being fought over a billionaire's basement in South Kensington has revealed that rich people have special needs ordinary folk cannot contemplate. Gert-Rudolph Flick and his wife, Corinne, might live in a palatial £30m mansion near Onslow Square, but sadly, it doesn't provide all the accommodation they deem essential. They have applied for planning permission to excavate 30 feet below ground to build an extension for a 50ft swimming pool, cinema, salon for beauty treatments, steam room – and separate rooms to house summer and winter clothes. The work is opposed by nearly 60 residents (including Julian Lloyd Webber), who say their lives will be blighted by dirt and noise. Imagine owning so many clothes you have to dig a £1m hole to store the ones you're not wearing for six months of the year. Why not donate them to charity at the end of the season and buy another lot?

Artless jibe

George Baselitz is a highly acclaimed artist who hardly needs publicity. So why tell a German newspaper women don't make great painters? The 75-year-old says that in spite of making up the majority of students at art schools, few "would pass the market test, the value test... as always the market is right". The idea that good art gets determined by price is ridiculous. Art prices are partly dictated by fashion and resale potential, and many of today's new billionaires pay over the odds for work that gives them an instant sense of their own importance. Female artists from Berthe Morisot and Barbara Hepworth to Paula Rego and Louise Bourgeois more than nail this sexist rubbish.