Hell hath no fury

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in marriage split – BBC News

Amber Heard files for divorce days after Depp’s mother dies.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I should know:

“ON 11th JULY 2012, some six months after I’d departed the UK, I finally received a communiqué from Jane. Not a message from Jane herself but an email from a Leeds based law firm which stated:

‘As you may be aware we have been contacted by Jane Harris in connection with the breakdown of your marriage, Indeed we are instructed that the marriage is at an end and we are to commence divorce proceedings against you in the near future. It would be helpful if you could provide me with an address to which the papers can be sent. The divorce will be based upon your unreasonable behaviour.’

Although, with hindsight, it was pretty obvious that Jane and I were heading for a divorce I was shocked and confused by this news. We had previously agreed that we would wait until I returned from Afghan before deciding our future as man and wife. By that time we would have lived apart for two years. Knowing that Jane already had a new boyfriend, I’d promised her that I would consent to a decree being granted if this was what she wanted.

This not only left the very slim possibility of reconciliation, but also ensured that Jane would receive a widow’s pension and other benefits from the army in the event of my death. I didn’t understand why Jane had so suddenly and dramatically changed her mind, but I could do little more than wait to learn of my unreasonable behaviours from the York County Court.

A few days later I received a further email from her solicitors to which they had attached a copy of the court papers. Internet access in MOB Price could be maddeningly slow and was confined to 30 minute sessions on the computers in the welfare cabins. I waited several long minutes as the file downloaded but then had no means of copying or printing the eight page document, which was written in a legalese with which I was not familiar. Hastily scribbling the main headings onto a bluey – the free aerograms supplied to troops on active service – I tried to make sense of the petition.

Part 6 the Statement of Case outlined my unreasonable behaviours:

  1. Over the course of the last 12 months of the marriage, on occasions far too numerous to specify there were arguments between the Petitioner and the Respondent. More annoyingly for the Petitioner when there were not arguments there were prolonged periods of silence causing a very unpleasant atmosphere within the matrimonial home. The respondent could sit for hours without speaking.
  2. Over the course of the last 12 months of the marriage the Respondent was controlling and selfish.
  3. The Respondent would take issue with the Petitioner for boiling more than one cup of water in the kettle and wasting electricity.
  4. The Respondent would take issue with the Petitioner for using the vacuum instead of a carpet sweeper.
  5. The Respondent would go on 2 or 3 skiing holidays a year, without inviting the Petitioner nor the children, causing the Petitioner upset.
  6. The Respondent would complain that house hold paper work remained unfiled.
  7. The Respondent demanded the running of the property in his own way and was derogatory towards the Petitioner when his own way was not followed.
  8. The Respondent on one occasion threw a pack of BBQ skewers at the Petitioner following the Petitioner having made a cooking suggestion.

Jane was right, of course, everything she’d outlined in her divorce petition was true, I was guilty as charged. But perhaps her statement of case didn’t quite tell the whole story.

We had indeed argued on occasions far too numerous to mention, although these arguments had principally been about Jane’s refutation of our precarious financial situation, or about her point‑blank refusal to rein in her expenditure, describing this to me as demeaning. I had indeed insisted on running the property and our budgets in my own way, but only after Jane spent the £3,500 I’d earmarked for school fees on her wardrobe. I had enquired on numerous occasions why she refused to use the energy saving ‘one cup’ kettle my father had kindly given us for Christmas, although I suspected I knew the reason why. I did recall sitting for hours in stunned silence after Jane had revealed to me that she’d voted in local elections for a party of the right most commonly associated with shameful immigration policies and shaven‑headed, tattooed thugs. And yes, I had complained about unfiled paperwork and I had thrown a pack of BBQ skewers.

There was also the question of my excessive skiing. I’d declared my passion for skiing long before we married and we had been on several skiing holidays together. But Jane did not share my love of snow covered mountains and never took to the thrill of descending their gelid gradients. When she informed me that she no longer wished to go on skiing holidays I hadn’t understood this to mean that I should no longer go skiing either.

If I were splitting hairs I might have argued that I had merely asked Jane to remind our housekeeper to use the carpet sweeper, rather than the vacuum, on our expensive Persian rugs. To the best of my knowledge, Jane neither vacuumed nor swept.

However, there was one further item that I could not accept. My hand shook as I hurriedly scrawled the final statement onto the bluey:

  1. The respondent would become very aggressive towards the Petitioner following occasions when the Petitioner merely made simple suggestions or comments. The Petitioner would view the actions of the Respondent during such periods of time as borderline abuse.

I couldn’t accept the allegation of aggression and abuse. It simply wasn’t true and just rereading the accusation in my own illegible handwriting on the flimsy airmail paper felt like a betrayal that brought tears to my eyes. I hadn’t expected Jane to lie. But perhaps I should not have been surprised by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.

Much later I would draw the conclusion that Jane must have been schooled by her solicitors on this point. She would never produce any evidence to substantiate these terrible claims and was always very careful never directly to accuse me of abusive or aggressive behaviour, stating instead that this was her opinion of my behaviour. Over time I think Jane came to believe her own rhetoric, and would always default to this line whenever we had a disagreement.

It seemed that Jane and I were now at war and she had achieved Foxtrot Triple Tango. Stuck as I was on the front line of the most dangerous district in the most dangerous province of the most dangerous country on the planet, with just 30 minutes of low speed internet connectivity per session in the MOB Price internet cabins, there was precious little I could do about it.”

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.

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