In September 2005, in a burst of spontaneous stupidity and without consulting any of my friends or family, I left my husband of 18 years for a man I’d met twice. I made no preparations, and took few belongings. While Malcolm was out one morning, I simply packed a bag, left the house keys with a long letter explaining that I’d left him for another man, travelled to London from Manchester, where I had been living, and moved into David’s flat.Old Malcolm's clearly got at least a modicum of Game. He's just cruising through the backstretch of life when his insane, insufficiently entertained wife walks out on him for a failure to express interest in what the evidence suggests is her vapid travel writing, and he promptly finds a replacement some 32 years younger.
For the first 48 hours I was high on adrenalin. I loved feeling passion for the first time in decades, and was girlishly excited by this new chapter in my life.
But my joy was short-lived. Within days I started wondering whether David and I were right for each other, because we weren’t getting on as well as I’d imagined. I found David bad-tempered, and rather dull. By the end of the first week, I knew I’d been incredibly stupid to give up everything for a man I barely knew. He talked all the time about his late wife, and I realised that life with him would be lived in the shadow of a dead woman. He’d told me about all his friends and how supportive they were, but when I actually met them they seemed old, jaded and uninteresting.
But the ghastly mistake had been made - and it was now irreversible. Five days after I walked out on him, Malcolm moved his new girlfriend into our house. He had met an 18-year-old Eastern European girl in an internet cafe a day or two after I left, and she was now his girlfriend.
The dynamism of women tends to make it harder to find the sort of contentment that many men, especially older men, find relatively easy. Malcolm probably would have been content to stay married to Charlotte, but that doesn't mean that he found the situation ideal. Certainly the ease with which he acquired a young girlfriend suggests a man who understands that he has options. But the fact that one has options is very far from meaning that one is wise to pursue those options.
The most telling part of the article, however, is that it shows what is truly valuable to many women. "I missed the big house and garden, and I hated living in one room, and sleeping on a sofa bed. I missed the ease of married life." But old Malcolm himself? Apparently not so much.
Now, obviously not all women are flighty loons like Charlotte. The problem, of course, is that it is very, very hard to know who is and who is not.