All over – even the shouting

IT’S all over, I think, bar the occasional slanging match and the argument about who gets the appalling plastic fruit bowl given to us on our wedding day by Aunt Ethel.

Aunt Ethel is dead now, as are my parents, which is a good thing, because they weren’t here to see the end of my marriage.

Thirty years, it’s been. And 32 years since we met. I say the end of our marriage, but we haven’t reached the divorce stage yet. This is the separation stage.

I blame my parents. They made it to their 50th anniversary after a courtship of some six months. And they made it look easy. As far as I know they were deeply in love with one another all their lives. They certainly were when I was living at home as a teenager, and it wasn’t safe to enter a room without coughing loudly and rattling the door handle first.

It’s supposed to be a well-known fact that parents don’t do ‘it’. But someone forgot to tell mine.

The trouble was, they made it look so easy (love, not ‘it’). I entered adulthood with the romantic notion that all you had to do was find someone, fall in love with them, and everything would drop into place, like the tumblers in a well-oiled lock.

Except that, as we all know, it doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you have to hammer the bits together like ill-matched jigsaw pieces.

Well… no one can say we didn’t try. If you have read this column over the years you will know that we’ve been here before. But not like this. I really do think this time it’s the end of the road.

I wish it were not. I am an incurable romantic and I have an abiding faith in the beauty of lifetime partnerships. Of course, I have observed the other kind, too, as I’ve grown older – the ones that generate all the gags about lifetime sentences.

But I’m sure it’s possible to be together for life and be happy. My parents are the evidence!

And lately, when I’ve tried to be mature and sensible about this debacle, I say to myself… maybe I’ll find it again. But that’s ridiculous. You can only find one life partnership. Anything I find now will only qualify as an old-age partnership.

We need to be clear here, too: I have only myself to blame. I am Difficult To Live With.

I always thought it came with having an artistic temperament, but I’m inclined now to think it’s to do with not having grown up.

I’m reminded of a woman I once knew who said that any future boyfriend would have to provide her with three references: one from his employer; one from his bank; and one from a former girlfriend.

A stroke of genius, I thought. Not only would you benefit because you would be warned in advance if you were about to get involved with a feckless, insolvent wanker, but gradually all women would benefit when fellers realised that an ex-girlfriend wasn’t so much an ex-girlfriend but more of a credit rating.

In my case, my first girlfriend would have been my last, because I can’t remember one that I ever left with a good opinion of me. I remember one who cut up all my clothes and one who emptied a gallon of milk inside my car.

Not so this time. I think my wife (or is that ex-wife?) and I might end up as friends, when the dust settles. I mean… we have five children and six grandchildren to stop us arguing about trivia.

Or possibly to start us arguing about trivia. I don’t know.

It seems such a waste, but I guess it’s not wasted. We still have amazing children. Think of it as mixing manure with rain and producing flowers.

And there’s so many things to learn… like, how much tea do you put in the pot for one person? Whose face do you seek out when you enter a room full of people? Who can you blame when you arrive half an hour late somewhere?

Mind you… there’s an upside, too. Somewhere…