Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

World still stupid. Sorry.

A NEW year! Full of hope! Full of potential! Full of change!

And full of the same old crap as last year, too. Recession still on. Lockerbie bomber still alive. Simon Cowell still in charge of almost everything.

Oh, and offensive things are still happening while we're told they're good for us. Hence the Queen 'reaching out to her subjects' by letting the proles look at her  diamonds (ooh, thanks Yer Maj, would you like us to pay an entry fee too?), women believing chemical pouches in their boobs won't do them any harm (yes, ideal world and all that, but come on), and dry January which medically speaking is about as healthy as bulimia, but without the endorphin rush.

I know 2012 is young as yet but the outbreak of common sense we could all do with does not look likely any time soon. Instead wilful stupidity is infecting everything.

Take, for example, the continued trumpeting of High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge. You'd think it would be impossible to be a judge while also being thick and obtuse, but somehow he's managed it.

Last year he said: "Obtaining a divorce is easier than getting a driving licence." This despite the fact a driving licence involves a few lessons and a test, while marriage requires neither and divorce, speaking personally, is the most testing thing I've ever done.

Now Sir Paul has set up a foundation - backed by various other law bods whose experience of humanity is from inside a courtroom rather than outside  - to do that ephemeral thing, 'promote marriage'. It will publish research and lobby the government to do what Sir Paul thinks is right.

He says that 3.8million children are "caught up in the family justice system" as a direct result of broken relationships, and that if marriage were harder to leave our children would all be better off.

I am sure there are plenty of youngsters who've gone off the rails because of a split, for many reasons from diverted parental attention to personal unhappiness; the way our ancient legal process turns husbands and wives into adversaries is responsible for a lot of that. But I am also sure that the vast majority of those children 'in the system' are the subject of custody disputes and are, despite that, still pretty much on the rails. I know of quite a few children who acted more reasonably than their parents during their divorce.

And as there are between 11m and 12m children in the UK I am also reasonably certain that a quarter of them are not yet recidivists.

Some marriages need to end. One in four women and one in six men suffer domestic violence, and those unions should cease to protect not only the partners but also their children. Most divorces are on the grounds of adultery and unreasonable behaviour, and in the 21st century no-one should have to put up with either if they don't want to.

The good judge has got things entirely arse-about-face, as usual. The marriage rate per thousand of the population is roughly twice that for divorce, which shows getting hitched is twice as popular and hardly in need of promotion. Twice as many women as men file for divorce, probably because of their ability to continue working and support themselves and their families. Would he rather they were meek little housewives?

And the single causative factor in every single one of those splits was getting married in the first place, which any old fool can do. You turn up at the register office, pay a basic fee of around £60, and that's it.

No lessons. No instructor, no test. The truth is it's harder and more expensive to get a driving licence than it is to get hitched, with the consequent result that lots of people do it because they're in love and they don't stop to think about what will happen when that passes.

To be fair he does say that stronger marriages come from people being more sensible in the first place, but there's quite a lot of people who have tried to encourage that and as the first three days of 2012 have shown we haven't got very far.

But as a serving judge who makes life-changing decisions in Britain's family courts every day, he didn't ought to be lobbying politicians or expressing personal opinions.

We should make getting married more difficult, and getting divorced a lot easier. And until 62-year-old Sir Paul, a married father-of-three who is descended from the same line as renowned opium addict and layabout Samuel Taylor Coleridge, either retires or seriously pisses off his wife, he should wind his neck in.

Silly arse.