Epithalamion (this time it’s personal)

epithalamionI just spent the weekend with my brother and his girlfriend, talking about (amongst other things) past relationships. When I got home (he lives 5 hours away from me), I found my Decree Absolute in my letter box. This means I’m officially divorced. I’m feeling a mixture of gratitude for the good things about my abortive marriage, and remorse for the things I did wrong that caused hurt. Sad and relieved. Reflective.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing my search for the answer to the following conundrum. In English divorce law, first we have the Decree Nisi, and then the Decree Absolute, and you have to apply for the former first. Once you get the Decree Nisi, this happens:

I am unable to let go of my fascination with whoever decided on this fairy-tale-logic time period. I love this six-weeks-and-a-day, but I have to know why six-weeks-and-a-day. If I solve this mystery, I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile (again), I have another mystery. My paternal grandfather was a strange blend of hero and villain in my mind, for all sorts of reasons. He survived the First World War with shell shock and deafness – and survived it partly due to anti-semitism. Everyone else except him at officer training got commissioned together (he wasn’t, because he was Jewish, and they had a “quota” system going). Then everyone except him got shipped off to France, and a week later they were all dead. What a weird tragedy. He had a couple of other near brushes with death while he was over in France, too.

He was later a drinker and a gambler, and an appalling and unthinkingly cruel father, from what I can make out. But what my brother told me this weekend is that when my grandfather was a solicitor, one of his great triumphs was foiling an obscenity case, defending a doctor who published a sex manual in the 1950s 1940s that told women how to have a good time, for once. I’m trying to find out more about this too. It’s hard to picture my grandfather as a women’s hero (though apparently he was). Everyone is such a mixture.


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