Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

Bringing out the big Gundelfingers

”Why does divorce have to be messy?” someone asked on Twitter. Today’s trending topic is, of course, the Sexwale divorce. Anything is messy if it involves lawyers, anger and, of course, money. A lot of money. (A R70 million house! R150 000 a month maintenance! I hope at least that the R1 million car demand is in line with inflation.)

My divorce didn’t involve much money. Maybe that’s why it didn’t end up in the Sunday Times (though at one point, there was enough potential for skinner that it might well have — that’s a story for another time). It threatened to get very nasty, but in the end, reason prevailed. From the start of the process to the time it went through the courts was less than six weeks. It was short and sweet because our finances were separate and we didn’t see the point of spending money on lawyers, and the lawyer we did use put our interests ahead of his bank balance. Roy Bregman is one of those very rare divorce lawyers who is a genuinely good guy.

That’s clearly not going to happen with the Sexwales, not when the big Gundelfingers are brought out. I’m torn, watching this, because I know how painful divorce is, though whether it’s more or less painful when staggering amounts of money are involved, I don’t know. More than three years later, I’m still battling to recover from the circumstances surrounding mine.

But at the same time, there’s the inevitable pleasure of gossip, the desultory gawking over the misfortunes of the fantastically rich and famous. There’s something quite 80s about a celebrity divorce splashed all over the Sunday Times. It took me back to the great celebrity divorce of the era, Sol and Anneline, to roast chicken lunches at my grandparents with jelly and ice-cream for pudding and Chris Evert Lloyd playing Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon on TV afterwards. I remember the way Bob Hewitt always talked about “Chrissie” and the way the winter sun angled past the trees and in through the glass, warm like syrup.

Things have changed. Now we have Twitter, and this:

where a Business Day journalist is taking a talk-radio host to task and Tokyo’s spindoctor is retweeting the comment, which is quite extraordinary, when you think about it. (Three years ago, none of that would have made any sense.) Neither Tokyo nor Judy tweet, or we’d be faced with the prospect of the first proper Twitter divorce in South Africa. Instead we’ll have to be content with half-hearted debates about whether we should be discussing this at all, while the day wears on and the outrage about rape peters out, because something else has come along to distract us.

Anene Booysen was so last Friday.

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