Leading Article: How to cook your husband's goose

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The Independent Online
There cannot be a "beautiful, creative, energetic and instinctively stylish woman" who was not cheered by Mr Justice Wilson's ruling that Sir Terence Conran had underestimated his wife's contribution to his fortune. Didn't everyone (excepting, perhaps, Sir Terence) feel that all was for the best in this most benignly ordered land? What wisdom! What chivalry! Nor, while championing the lady, did Justice Wilson neglect her ex-knight's feelings (aside from leaving him pounds 10m poorer). Sir Terence's disregard of his wife's skills, beyond what he called "active home support", was the failing only of "a healthy ego". It can be hard, said the judge, for a man with one of those to notice other people.

Judges have always had strong views on what is healthy in men and appropriate in women. In 1988 Judge Sir Harold Cassel considered it intolerable, for example, for a "healthy young husband" to be denied sex by his pregnant wife. The "healthy" former policeman thus escaped a jail sentence for indecently assaulting his 12-year-old stepdaughter. And while judges believe that a strong-blooded male, such as Lord Archer, has no need of a prostitute if he has a "fragrant" wife, they certainly disapprove of provocative behaviour. Even an eight-year-old can contribute to her own exploitation as we learnt from Judge Starforth Hill who opined in 1993 that a girl who had been sexually abused "was not entirely an angel". Judges do not like scolds. In 1995 Mr Justice Miskin sympathised with Nicholas Boyce, who had chopped up and cooked the body of his wife Christabel, noting that he was "a loving husband who was nagged beyond endurance".

Our advice to women wondering how they match up? Start honing those "active home support" skills. Or, as Sir Terence put it, rather sourly we thought: "Cook a few meals now and again."

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