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Monday, June 02, 2008

I blame hen weekends for divorce

One of the many sobering facts in the first volume of David Kynaston's "Austerity Britain" is that in the 1930s the UK divorce rate was around 6,000 a year. By 1950, thanks to wartime upheaval, it had gone up to 20,000. That's partly because more people (425,000) got married for the first time in 1940 than in any other year since records began.

The UK divorce rate is now running at over 150,000 a year. I wonder whether the divorce rate rises in direct relation to the increase in fuss around the business of a wedding. In Barcelona the other weekend we came into contact with stag and hen parties from all over Europe. Bleached blonde girls from Carshalton wearing deeley-boppers at breakfast in the hotel, young Frenchmen dressed in nappies at the Park Guell and burly Brits in their late thirties striding round the Gothic Quarter in matching tee shirts.

Our daughter assures us this is now an obligatory component of the pre-match ritual. It's not something you have a choice about. It's important that you be seen to publicise your decision, particularly among your friends. When we got married nearly thirty years ago there were two ways to do it: you either organised it as a family occasion or you simply went to the Register Office and then told people about it afterwards. I know a few people who did this. I get the feeling nowadays that would be seen as passing up a unique opportunity to draw attention to yourself.