Tuesday, 25 June 2013


At some stage during the upheavals of moving from Earls Court to Gloucester Road to Cornwall Gardens, I consulted a solicitor about divorcing Eve, an emotionally unpleasant procedure which was now obviously essential if Maribel and I were to get married. 
  All Eve and I had to do, he told me, was agree about the access to, and upkeep of, Nicolas and Matthew and the ownership of possessions. If we could do this on amicable terms the whole thing would be very simple and cost a minimal amount. 
 I wrote to her suggesting she keep the house and all its contents and that I would guarantee regular payments for the boys till they were eighteen as well as send her extra funds when I could afford it. It meant that I would virtually lose everything I had ever worked for but peace of mind was more important to me than belongings and, unlike her, I was capable of starting from scratch again.  
 Eve answered by return gratefully agreeing to everything and the solicitor took over. But a while later he called to advise me that, having sent Eve a document for her to sign agreeing to everything we had discussed, he had received a letter from Major Bill’s solicitors stating that they were acting on behalf of his daughter and that the terms suggested were quite unacceptable. This meant that the divorce proceedings and the costs would escalate.  
 Eve had yet again been unable to keep her father from meddling in her life and, though he had always regarded my writing as a fickle and precarious pass time without a future, someone had obviously pointed out that authors often sold the film rights of their books for a fortune and could become very rich. If this should happen he thought she should have at least 50% of anything I earned. 
  'What we unfortunately must do now,' my solicitor said, 'is reply, categorically stating that your wife went to America without prior notice, deserting you and her children, and that you believe her to be incapable of looking after your sons due to her excessive consumption of alcohol.' 
 I really did not want to do this, but it was pointed out that if I didn’t fire a warning shot across the enemy’s bows, I might be torpedoed first and sink into the sea of disaster.
  An unpleasant letter was therefore despatched and, by return, Major Bill immediately climbed down. The case went to court where the judge stated that he thought  I was extremely civilized in my attitudes, granted a decree nisi,  maintenance only to be paid till the children were seventeen and the amount reduced considerably from what I had been ready to pay. The decree absolute came in due course.

 On June 23rd, a sunny Monday, Maribel and I were married.
 We had planned a simple little celebration after the registry office nuptials, then a three day honeymoon by the sea somewhere on the East Coast. But it didn’t quite turn out that way. 
 Just before lunch Maribel and I presented ourselves at the Kensington Town Hall along with five of our closest friends, sealed our union without fuss, then went back to the flat for a previously prepared cold buffet, not expecting more than twenty five or so guests, but half Louisa Aranda’s Spanish ballet company showed up with two guitarists and the wedding breakfast turned into a very noisy  Andalusian fiesta. The troupe danced the Sevillana, endlessly, clapped their hands, stamped their feet and sang loudly with a vengeance.
 As evening drew near I anxiously looked at the clock having planned to drive my young bride to a far away hotel before nightfall. But darkness fell and at midnight two police officers banged on the door as someone had complained about the disturbance. We closed the windows, the officers had a couple of drinks and dawn broke before the last partygoer left.          
  The next day we drove to Orford on the Suffolk coast where we had oysters for dinner and stayed the night. On our way back we visited Cambridge which pleased Maribel immensely, for I later heard her tell people that we had spent an academic honeymoon in ‘Orford and Cambridge’.   

The married couple


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