By this time, my lover was living next door. [It strikes me this moment that this was not a meaning of the phrase that occurred to me when I was writing my set Next door about incipient Fascism in Carshalton Beeches. I think it is there. How odd. I am disinclined to autobiography*.]
She had gone to those people saying she feared violence from me. She may have feared ridicule from me; but I think her purpose was to put pressure by other people on me. I may come back to that if it becomes relevant.
After many months, I received a final offer from her solicitors. It was their first offer. It was an offer of way below what I was due and I rejected it; but I rejected it with a counter offer which used her figures.
Now there was a really long silence. It may have meant nothing but it may have been her not wanting to accept the offer but being in no position to dispute the fabricated figures.
For the first few months, I had been asking her the reason for her anger and antipathy towards me. And she would just respond: "You know what you've done."
I separate that from her claim that she did not love me. I was prepared to believe it. I have lost interest in people I have loved. I suppose we all know that feeling: no, I don't like you as much as I thought. However, after twelve years, I was outside of my personal experience of falling out of love; but when she forced me this way to think about it, then I was ready to accept that my love of her had cooled.
I remember writing (in Messages to silence) something like “One cannot be ecstatic all a life”; and so it is. That was to do with people living in a beautiful town by the sea and almost taking it for granted; and I can think of several places I now know where I can be knocked sideways by the place and yet to a great extent take it for granted. It gets like that with people maybe.
We were, at her request, in separate beds – we had a spare room – but she kept making occasional sexual advances to me, which was strange given that she had said she did not want to live with me because she didn't love me. But from the beginning of October 1991 until maybe the middle of January 1992, maybe 10 weeks, we went to bed five times. (It's almost teenage, isn't it, that I have the count; but it was singular. It separated love and sex, which was a bit of a throwback.) It wasn't much of a sex life but it suggested something was askew: I don't love you; come to bed with me. Nor did we see each other much. She was off seeing the new man in her life.
Then she said that her counsellor had told her she was being used by me and should resist that. I wasn't quite sure how a woman I had lived with saying “Do you want a fuck?” – we didn't mess around linguistically – and me saying ok was me using her; but that was that. Within a few months, I was quite besotted by someone else whom I shall not mention further, not to identify her anyway, and began to see The Mad Woman as less than desirable.
During those first months, we also went to Marriage Guidance. That was interesting. Her first response, when I suggested it, was that I had spoken against it in the past so I was not serious. I said that I had and maybe I was wrong. I was certainly happy to find that I had been wrong if we could find a way through with their help.
She agreed eventually but insisted that she make the arrangements “because you have never let me arrange anything”. And I'll come back to that.
Interestingly, on the way there, she said she couldn't understand why I wanted to try to stay with her after the way she had treated me. I had to agree it was odd though I am not sure that the detail of what she did matters much now. As I think this through, I can come back to that. But it was an interesting admission; as was the proposal that we meet in McDonalds. I lived with her all those years and never glimpsed the junk food eater in her. When we could afford it, we used, in those days, to eat at The Gay Hussar in Soho. For instance. Money. Quality... if you like it. I did like it. I thought she did.
But that morning I wondered if she were just taking on new roles. (Once, a couple of years before, I called her in to the living room, to forget the housework for a bit and watch James Mason on TV in Madam Bovary. No answer. “Don't you like Madam Bovary?” I had always assumed she did...
Enter hurricane: How dare you say I am like Emma Bovary. I am nothing like Emma Bovary.
When she stopped shouting, I told her what I had said and she said “Oh” and went away a little shakily. So, I thought, you're worried that you are like Emma Bovary.
The way she had introduced the forename seemed to clinch it. It was something that had not occurred to me then; but it fitted very well in some ways.)
When we got there, to Marriage Guidance, it turned out that she had demanded they help us to reach a financial settlement; although as she was resisting that I think she wanted them on her side. They said they had told her that they couldn't do that separately, I think – I wasn't listening properly by then – but could help us towards being ready to reach one.
She spoke first and called me a fascist; and more; shouting andhectoring; and I lost interest.
The session came to an end and we went downstairs. She announced she had no money and I would have to pay her share. I declined and we left having paid 50% of what was due... or maybe it was a suggested figure. We left with her shouting at me again that something was typical of me, that I was so tight-fisted; and how embarrassing I was; how dreadful; and outside she changed and said “I think we have a very good counsellor there.” as if all the rest, her vitriolic attack upon me and the kerfuffle over money hadn't happened.
I thought about that when I recovered my balance; and that was when I had put some distance between us.
If it was her counsellor then they would be good. She wanted only the best, the best by popular acclaim, and blagged it by declaration if she didn't have it.
I remember an acquaintance taking me to Blooms, where I had never been, and saying “This is the best salt beef in London”. For some reason I repeated this to someone who knew him better than I; and they said “Oh if he goes somewhere then he'll tell you it's the best; because he only eats the best; qed.” My ex-mrs was like that.
Then she said: “Come on, and I'll buy you lunch.”
How could she do that, without money? I asked. I don't remember the answer. Some waffle. I left her there.
What about making another appointment? she asked. (As if we could have easily gone in again to make one.) I said there was no point if she was just going to harangue me. And she said she had known I wasn't serious.
Right. This is not where I expected to be.
I wonder if anyone will ever read this far.
I intend to go to the end of this anyway.
But not now. Not yet. More soon.
* All writing is autobiographical to some extent, of course. I wrote a long sequence, Messages to silence, between 1986 and 1993, which went very close to autobiography; but it varied from it; and I was quite consciously seeing what it is like, what the problems are etc. I remember posing in some kind of (my) mode of William Blake, quoting him "My name is Wm Blake and I have died several times". It was an unpleasant experience.