How to move house and bypass divorce

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The Independent Online

They say that moving house is the third most stressful experience after death and divorce. What they don't tell you is that moving house is very likely to result in death and divorce. My wife and I have a few rules that have kept us from becoming a statistic in the long list of showbiz divorces. These guidelines have been drawn up after thoroughly road-testing them.

Rule 1 Never rely on each other for directions while in a vehicle. At no time, ever, is anyone required to read a map and announce where we currently are or where we are going to. This became a bit of an issue when we first tried to find our new house but we now know where it is, so hopefully the probem has been resolved.

Rule 2 Under no circumstances do DIY together. I am appalling at anything practical; my wife is rather good– our biggest rows have occurred when we've both attempted to "do somewhere up". This is a big problem with our new house as we are undertaking a total revamp. An average day will involve us both standing in a room surrounded by tiny pots of paint that seem to have been designed for a Lilliputian make-over. We each have our own of pots of colour, which are called things like Egyptian Crocodile and Confucius Number Seven.

Who comes up with these names? It must be the same people who name hurricanes and car models. Whoever it is, here's an idea: why not just make them relate to the actual colour in some way? As it is, Stacey and I daub little squares of mystery colours onto a wall and then squabble for half an hour about which one we can live with. This is pointless because whichever one we finally do agree on then completely changes colour when it dries. At one point, we compromised on Wham Reunion Tour Number Nine only to find when we returned that it had transformed into Shattering Mental Breakdown Number Two.

In the end, we lost the will to live and asked the painter we employed to prevent us from doing DIY together to decide for us. He looked rather panicked about this and ended up playing it safe, painting the whole place Brilliant White Number One. This has made the house look like a lunatic asylum, which is probably the right thing to have done as we're going to both check ourselves in when it's all over.

Rule 3 Lie about what everything costs. We have both been purchasing various items for the new place, all of which appear to be incredibly reasonably priced.

"How much was that?" I'll ask her as furniture arrives for the children's bedrooms.

"That? Oh, I got it in a sale, 80 per cent off …."

I never find out the total of what the 80 per cent off was.

Meanwhile, I've been busy trying to smuggle in electronic goods and stereotypically "male" furniture like beanbags, without being caught. We have both become reverse cat burglars, sneaking into the house and trying to leave objects without being spotted.

Anyway, must go now: I've got to give the plumber we have hostage in the basement some water.