03 September 2007

Divorce c. 3200BC - AD2007

Across Britain married couples are today bowing their heads and quietly hissing at their partners about a thousand different petty faults they have found in each other as they remember Divorce, which has passed away after the revelation by the UK's Office for National Statistics that it has fallen from a great height to a record low.

Though its origins - like the financial records of Paul McCartney and Heather Mills - remain shrouded in mystery, many believe that Divorce was born in Mesopotamia in the 4th Millenium BC. Most historians believe it was the child of an unhappy marriage, though others believe it was actually raised by a lawyer who had just thought of a brand new way of getting people into the courts and their money into his wallet(1).

From the start Divorce proved popular in Mesopotamia. Wherever Shu-Ilishu could be found reeling home late from the temple after a couple too many beers or Inanna could be discovered having secret trysts with Ishbi-Erra behind Ur-Dakuga's back, there would be heard calls for Divorce to come as quickly as possible.

As the years passed, Divorce decided to strike out for pastures new. It was extremely popular in Ancient Athens, where it became the swiftest and easiest answer to matrimonial disputes (which, Ancient Athenians being Ancient Athenians, usually revolved either around fraught arguments over whether Achilles could ever catch up with a tortoise or even fraughter arguments about what exactly Alexander had been caught doing with his pool boy). It was in Rome that Divorce reached its greatest heights, however, partly due to the fact that anyone was allowed to divorce at will but mainly due to the inevitable fallout from all those orgies.

With the spread of Christianity, however, Divorce began to show the first signs of fragility. It was no longer regarded as a sensible and convenient solution to the problem of two people waking up one morning to the realisation that the worst thing in the whole world is to discover that your partner makes an irritating slurping noise while eating his or her larks' tongues, but seen instead as an affront to God's Will(2). Despite this, many attempts were made down the years to keep Divorce alive and well. Henry VIII in particular did all in his power to support Divorce, even setting up his own religion to help separate himself from several spouses (in much the same way that L. Ron Hubbard founded his own religion to separate his followers from their money). Thanks to his good work it was not long before Divorce was proving almost as popular as heretic burning and catching syphilis.

Over the following centuries Divorce fell in and out of favour with the waxing and waning of the power of the church. It was in the 20th century however that it was to reach new heights, particularly after 1945. Not least among the causes of this renewed popularity was the number of Tommies who came home to Britain from World War II to discover their wives had drawers full of nylon stockings, handbags full of chewing gum and a wardrobe full of members of the US military called Dwight trying to do up their belt buckles. The stars of stage and screen, ever eager to help a good cause, also rallied to Divorce's side. In this regard particular mention must be made of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mickey Rooney for their hard work in the area of serial marriages and to George Clooney for making so many women dissatisfied with that slob they've got taking up space on the sofa back home.

Yet despite all this good work - not to mention the pressures of a society in which both partners must work to afford a reasonable standard of living, the strain of child-rearing and the great contribution of mobile phone texting and the internet to the business of having torrid affairs - last week Divorce was revealed to have fallen to a new low.

Divorce will be buried at St Britney's Church of the Repentant Spouse. The reading will be from chapters D, I, V, O, R, C and E of the book of Tammy Wynette, after which the congregation will inform each other that "It's not you, it's me" before throwing the communion wine over each other and storming out of the church.

(1) which, given that the currency at the time came in the form of gold bars, was almost as capacious as that of a modern divorce lawyer.
(2) placing it alongside other well-known affronts to God's will such as US election victories by the Democrats, the failure to possess at least two semi-automatic rifles and the teaching of evolution in schools but strangely not in the same category as owning slaves, selling your daughter or stoning adulterers to death.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Another gtreat one! I like "the book of Tammy Wynette"!

Sir James Robison said...

Reasonableness towards one another never gets a look in in this, does it?