Helen Martin: Too controlling to talk about it

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ALI and Nicky have been married for a long time – so long that sometimes it feels like three hundred years. Things aren’t going well . . .

Nicky: Ali, we have to talk. I feel stifled. You don’t let me decide ­anything for myself and I have no control over my life. We can’t go on like this.

Ali: Come off it Nicks. It’s always been that way so why bring it up now. I earn the most around here and I’m, well I’m bigger than you. . . so what I say goes.

Nicky: Well I just can’t take it any more. I need to make my own decisions about my own money and have some say over my own house, what I buy, which car I drive, how many hours I work, where I invest my ­savings, who my friends are, a career of my own . . . everything.

Ali: Don’t be ridiculous. What makes you think you could handle all that?. Do you really think you could survive without me? I’ve always decided ­everything. . . well, apart from the minor domestic stuff I leave to you. You couldn’t afford to support yourself anyway.

Nicky: I’ve spoken to the bank manager and he says my account looks quite healthy. I thought if we sold the house we could buy two flats quite near each other so we could share the cost and care of the dogs and remain friends. Play a round of golf now and then.

Ali: Well, I don’t think so. They are my dogs you know.

Nicky: Be sensible, you don’t have time to walk them, you even ­complain I treat them like royalty. We can work together on this.

Ali: No, they’re mine. You can’t guarantee you’ll see them because I’ll probably say “no”. And what do you mean “the bank manager”. . . you mean MY bank don’t you? You can’t have the same bank. I won’t let you. Honestly. . . and you expect me to sell MY house? You must be mad.

Nicky: If I decide to leave and get a divorce, you won’t have any choice Ali. We’ll have to divide the assets somehow. And it’s my bank branch as much as yours. My house as much as yours, my dogs as much as yours. But I have my own identity, my own aims and my own life. I even have one or two assets of my own. Look. . . I’ve written it all down in a plan.

Ali: Plan, schman. It’s just dreams . . . all rubbish. You haven’t thought it through. If we’re using the same bank, living in the same street, with the same dogs, what’s the point of leaving me in the first place? And where’s the proof you won’t starve huh? You say you’ll have assets, but you don’t know that for sure. You can’t GUARANTEE it!

Nicky: Well I can’t guarantee ­anything until I leave you and we negotiate through lawyers but I can make a reasonable guess.

Ali: Ha! Exactly, it’s a guess. No hard facts. You’ll get into terrible debt. You won’t be able to pay your bills, you’ll have to borrow loads of money. And by the way . . . you needn’t think you’ll still be a member of the golf club, you’re only a member as my wife. You’ll have to apply to join all over again and that means getting a seconder – which you might not – and paying the full joining fee, and . . .

Nicky: I know you’re trying to frighten me Ali. Can’t we talk about this reasonably, explore the options?

Ali: Options? Stay put. That’s the best option. You know we’re better together.

To be continued . . .

Bercow’s excuse is plain bonkers

IN defending the MPs’ expenses scandal, Commons Speaker John Bercow claims the poor things were just trying to exercise the imaginative parts of their brains as a displacement activity because Parliament had become less meaningful and increasingly irrelevant.

They were bored, he says, not

malicious or corrupt.

I get the boredom. The world is increasingly controlled not by politicians but by the untouchables . . . big international corporations and banks who hold all the power, jobs and money and use it for their own ends, ignoring political pressure and ethics.

But responding to that by fiddling expenses on the public purse is . . . malicious and corrupt.

Let’s hope city tells taxidermy to get stuffed

I LIKE a good cornice, a dado rail and period features. But I can do without the ghoulish Victorian practice of taxidermy.

I’m sure Edinburgh taxidermist Samantha Boyes, whose children help her find “road-kill” to stuff, is a lovely woman. The Royal Scottish Academy and the Union Gallery in Broughton Street certainly adore her pieces featuring dead mice and birds cavorting on a table of tea and cakes. Personally I find it repugnant, abusive and very upsetting. I do hope she’s wrong about taxidermy making a comeback in Edinburgh.

Celebs coming out of closets

NIGELLA Lawson a “habitual criminal” on daily cocaine? Melanie Sykes cautioned for common assault? All we need now is the news that Mary Berry’s a part-time stripogram and Victoria Beckham’s in an obesity clinic, and we’ll know the world really has shifted on its axis.