BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
It was pouring with rain. In a cloudburst and with a metal plate holding one’s leg together, Green Park underground station is a trek too far from Berkeley Square. I was close to late for my teatime appointment in Westminster. A black cab sat in front of me with its orange light on. I had some spare, shiny nuggets on me after pocketing the change after buying a delicious roast beef and horseradish bap earlier. So I stepped into the waiting cab and out of the rain.
I was greeted by a female driver. “Where you headin’ luv?”
“Great Peter Street, Westminster, please,” I replied as I brushed the water off my suit. “Much obliged. Coming down in buckets out there!”
“Are you a lawyer?” the cabbie asked, oddly.
“No, I’m sorry. Do you have a need for one?” I asked back, as the taxi embarked on its short journey.
“Just that I have filed for divorce,” the cabbie continued, as we passed Sexy Fish on the junction with Bruton Lane. “My husband doesn’t want a divorce and will do all he can to stop it but recognises that currently, legally, the law is on my side. So he insists that before we discuss what each of us will get, we discuss the terms of exiting the marriage. Doesn’t seem a big deal, so I agree.”
“Aha,” I replied, cognisant that I’d landed myself a talker here. So I nestled back on the bench to hear the good lady’s tale of woe…
“It then transpires that he wants me to pay him thousands of pounds for the bits of work he has done in the house and garden and so that we can jointly see the children. But I was at least in part a designer of what we did in the house and garden and produced the children – but that apparently counts for nought. He also wants me to continue to pay him thousands after we have divorced because I had the benefits of those and because I should hopefully get something from the spoils of the marriage. Then comes the clincher. Until we have agreed what each of us wants to get financially out of the marriage – you could call it a trade deal – he says we can’t enact the divorce … which, remember, he doesn’t want. And all the time the negotiations are going on, I am paying him thousands for the work he previously did in the house and garden. So what is to stop him from spinning out the ‘trade’ negotiations forever, so that I continue to pay him while getting very little in return apart from being allowed to see the children? And in the meantime, although I can flirt, I am not allowed to date anyone else. If I sign this agreement, the law about being able to exit the marriage at certain points will no longer apply, so I will not be able to ever exit the marriage, unless he agrees. What would you do?”
As we passed by the Athenaeum, I did not have to ponder long…
“Well, he lied, that’s a shite deal and things will only get worse,” I replied. “Don’t pay him a further penny, dear. And be done with the bullying bastard.”
(Hat- tip C Moran)