Juliet Dunlop: Human relationships as much a mystery as the God Particle
WHEN the late Hollywood screenwriter Nora Ephron found a receipt for an antique porcelain box that said “I Love You Truly” on it she knew her husband was cheating on her again.
Ephron, who was married to the Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, walked out, taking their two young children with her. Ephron’s heart was broken, she was “insane” with grief. It wasn’t funny at the time, but in the end it made her a fortune.
Years later she wrote about it in the thinly-disguised best-selling novel Heartburn. “My religion is Get Over It. I turned it into a rollicking story. I wrote a novel and bought a house with the money from it.”
Just for good measure it spawned a hit movie, starring another famous philanderer, Jack Nicholson. She tapped into our fascination with couples at war, turned a crisis into a drama and struck box-office gold. In the end, Ephron’s divorce lasted longer than the marriage.
Now the gory details of another high-profile split, yes I think you know who I mean, are splashed over the pages of newspapers and magazines everywhere. And this one is a real-life ready-made drama that requires no further embellishment.
Yes, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, or “TomKat” as they were known, are over. It all looked so glossy and starry on the outside until what seems like, well, last week. Now Cruise is in Iceland filming (hiding), where he also celebrated his 50th birthday, surrounded, one imagines, by spent party poppers and a cake for one. Pictures have also emerged of Holmes in New York, minus her wedding ring and looking thin and stern.
The coverage has been plentiful to say the least. So plentiful in fact, that this week’s discovery of the so-called God Particle – a scientific breakthrough 50 years in the making – is unlikely to topple TomKat from Google’s most clicked-on stories. I’m afraid the Big Split trumps the Big Bang.
But while we’re now a little wiser at least about the meaning of life, the Cruise-Holmes split remains a mystery.
There was always the Scientology aspect of the relationship, the age difference, the height difference – even the announcement on Oprah that they were a couple – but the truth is we’ll never really know why they’ve separated. Irreconcilable differences is the heading under which their five short years of marriage will be filed. Poor Katie.
She married the Top Gun poster she used to kiss at night as a teenager and ended up ripping it off the wall.
Of course, before the celebrity fall comes the celebrity wedding. Cruise and Holmes filled entire editions of Hello! and OK! when they wed in lavish style in Italy.
Other celebs – even royals – have done the same. Some have even gone on honeymoon with the journalist and photographer still in tow. Can you really blame the press for following the twists and turns of the inevitable divorce a few years down the line? For the sake of giving readers closure surely the same couples should be snapped posing with their lawyers, thrashing out who gets which house, the dog and the children – “A sad looking Katie Holmes wearing Ralph Lauren as she chats about custody rights with her attorney.”
You’d think it would be enough to put people off the whole idea of getting married. Yet the number of non-celebs tying the knot, or “civilians” as Liz Hurley once described the rest of us, has actually gone up according to the latest official figures.
Still, where there’s hope there’s gloom – one in three marriages still end in divorce.
Whichever way you look at it, marriage – the good, the bad and the ugly – is a hot topic. This month the Scottish Government is due to publish the results of its controversial same-sex marriage consultation. Key government ministers have already indicated they’ll vote to give gay couples equal legal status. If it happens – the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland hope it doesn’t – legal equality will mean the right to divorce for gay couples too. But as Nora might have put it, you can’t legislate for love.
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