One forgets. Though I still ruminate on the past, my marriage, my divorce (some might say endlessly) every so often as I search in my inbox or in actual piles of paper, I come across something that stops me in my tracks.
It happens a lot these days because, in the course of the book I am writing, I often go in search of emails, or of threads on wikivorce, where I half remember something someone said that I am now wanting to refer to. I never find what I am looking for, but the things I am not looking for sometimes amaze me.
Ran into one of my best friends from uni a while back after many years apart. He knew my ex (through me) and was shocked and sorry to hear what had happened, and we had a short exchange of emails before losing touch again. It must have been around the time of one of our court hearings. The judge had agreed with my ex that a forensic accountant should be appointed to get to the bottom of his finances. At the time he had about half a dozen companies with names confusingly on one theme, and another half dozen or more companies with names that were variations of another word. It was hard to keep track of which of these organisations was in which state of liquidation. We had variously been told that one group (that he had been CEO of for years) was ‘crap’ and the other showing great promise, before their fortunes apparently changed and the second group was crap because ‘the Malaysians’ were refusing to fund them any more, but now the first group was going great guns. And so on. Meanwhile, he had not given me or the children any money for many months, while continuing, as he had for years while we were together, to promise great riches in the near future.
My lawyer who, without ever having met him, evidently knew my husband better than I did after 20 years of marriage, was of the opinion that there was no money anywhere. I had always thought of him as the most hardworking person I knew: he worked long hours and had no interests outside of work; he was always studying documents, making presentations, involved in negotiations, and usually had an armory of half a dozen Apple products blinking at him at any given time, so that he was forever ‘stepping out’ of whatever we were doing (dinner, walking with the children, theatre) to take a call. She shocked me by gently saying that she thought he wasn’t actually working at all. And she had little confidence in his ability to make money in future. I had been listening for 20 years to stories about how he was about to retire, and I knew that there had been times when he had brought in a lot of money. He said I had too little faith in him, because I sometimes begged him to just get a job so that at least we would know where we stood, but in fact, I had too much faith in him. Because continuing to believe him incredibly clever and a talented banker was preferable to facing up to the fact that I had married a moron. To admit that I had married and put myself and my children into the hands of an idiot, and then to have to decide what to do about that, was too painful, uncomfortable, awkward. Easier to cling to the belief that he was the clever one, so the little voices inside me must be wrong.
In court he suggested a forensic accountant. Almost all of his businesses had managed in one way or another to avoid filing accounts. My lawyer and I wanted to avoid the cost which we knew would be in the order of £20,000. The judge agreed with BH. It was ordered that my side draw up a list of three forensic accountants, and his side choose one, with the cost to be shared 50/50. My lawyer spent many hours researching and briefing and selecting, liaising with his side and so on, which added another tidy sum to the expense.
The forensic accountant was not getting anywhere in understanding the pigs’ dinner that was his businesses, and he in his normal boorish, superior manner, had suggested that ‘the easiest thing’ rather than try to explain everything to her in writing, would be for him to do it face to face. (He was always patiently explaining to people what ‘the easiest thing’ was.) The accountant then suggested that in the interests of openness, I might want to attend the meeting.
It was the last thing I wanted. I had lost my hair and much of my eyesight. I was incontinent. I don’t understand accounts. And the thought of being in a room with him made me retch. The meeting was at their offices which were in Esher or Woking or somewhere down the A3. My aged and infirm mother drove me all the way there and waited for me for four hours in the car as it turned too dark for her to read, having no mobile phone, not knowing how long I would be, and peeing in the bushes.
And I had forgotten all about this until I saw an email to my old chum and found the following:
‘Bert’ is utterly delusional. Spent four v expensive hours with him in which he lectured a forensic accountant about banking, making it clear that everything he had touched had turned to shit, without ever seeming ashamed.
I had forgotten that.
PS Had dinner today with the child who now lives with him. We talked about this and that. She suggested that getting up at 7.30 was early and (without begrudging her a lie in post exams) I laughed and said I had to have left the house by then – earlier on Wednesdays like today, when I have to leave at 6.30 – and that I don’t usually get home before 8, so am not able to do things like cleaning or shopping or admin during the week. She said that Daddy is out working long hours as well. I asked ‘what does he do?’ and she said ‘He goes to his office’. His office is in Mayfair. She explained as well that he is not making any money. I said nothing. I also did not ask if they still have a cleaner and a personal trainer, or why they live near Hyde Park and his office is in Mayfair. No point.