I guess I can date very exactly when I lost it with lawyers. I know they’re not the root of all evil, but it always feels to me that they think evil is just another thing to be regulated. Do they really know the difference between right and wrong?
It was early 1983; Maggi was having an affair and looked likely to leave me. I went to ask a solicitor what would happen if we got divorced and she said I would lose the children. What if I do nothing and let her leave, can she take the children then? No. So the answer was simple, do nothing, stay legally married and I keep my kids, let the lawyers take over and not only do I lose a wife and half my house but my kids as well.
I asked the lawyer if she thought my kids would believe me if I told them 20 years later that lawyers made me leave them? She just thought I was being difficult because I was upset. I should say that back in those days the partner who left could not legally file for divorce until they’d been gone for five years and I figured that after five years, if I could not convince a court that I could look after the kids then I probably didn’t deserve them. We actually got divorced seven years later with joint custody and the kids living with me. I made sure they stayed in touch with their mum. We had this amazing rota that the kids organised, each weekend each parent had 1 or 2 or 3 or no kids, so it took 3 months to get through all the permutations.
Many years later my eldest daughter got married. We were all there; me, my new wife, Lois and Maggie and her new husband, Alan, and we all had a great time. Maggie said to Lois, my second wife.
‘Every girl should have two mothers.’
All the grandparents were there too, and I know that if we’d left it to lawyers it probably would not have been like that. These days, of course, the lawyers have dug themselves in deeper, and the chances of pulling off a deal like that are reduced.
I get angry when I hear politicians waxing on about the value of marriage. They clearly have no idea what they are talking about – odd really when so many of them are lawyers. Do they not realise that we now have a society where divorce is a more binding agreement than marriage. If you really love someone, and you want society to recognise it, then get married. After that, get divorced. Make the conditions of the divorce that you will live together, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, and anything else you really value. That way if either of you leave or fall short the law will get you for it. Without the divorce, you have no rights at all. Either of you can do what the fuck you like. Literally. Legally.