One of my clients is a conglomerate of diverse enterprises. There are restaurants (wine gifts!), clothing stores, even a clutch of racy ‘Adult Shops’. At the centre of the Head Office of this group, sits a sweet young lady of whom I have become awfully fond, as it is from her that I collect my monthly retainer. This girl recently fell in love with a bloke and it seems that there may soon be diamonds and a gift registry at Boardmans. The lad has children from a previous marriage and my friend has invited me to luncheon for some advice, because I have experience in the matter of step-children.

Now, from our earliest and most beloved literature, we are introduced to the Stepmother. She is not kind; she is the epitome of evil. Snow White, Cinderella, all of them have one thing in common: without the Stepmother there would be no plot. (Nowhere is anyone allowed to complain that Cinderella was bringing mice into the house). I personally fail to understand how the dads put up with all the cruelty their second-wives inflicted on the poor children, but that’s beside the point here.

Psychology journals inform that children of divorce will inevitably harbour the hope of their parents’ reconciliation until their dying day. They are unable to hate their parents for causing the wrenching pain of a broken home. They do, however, have to express their hatred, which is where the Stepmother becomes handy.

I shall strongly recommend that my friend remains The Girlfriend. There will be lavish gifts and lots of slap and tickle; things which peter out quite quickly when one says “I do”. She will have every second weekend and school holidays to herself; she will always have her own, clean bathroom.

All of this will, no doubt, fall on deaf ears and love will have its way…


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