Mr and Mrs Smith, indeed

Here’s a good ‘un from the BBC site, stripping out a bit of detail from the 2011 Census:

Blackpool is the divorce capital

The Lancashire seaside resort has the highest percentage of people who are divorced – 13.1%, compared with the average for England and Wales of 9%. This also includes those whose same-sex civil partnership is dissolved.

Seaside resorts are often near the top of the divorce league – but no-one is really sure why.

classes-cultures-england-1918-1951-ross-mckibbin-paperback-cover-artWell, here’s a clue, from Ross McKibbin (crazee name, crazee guy — © Glenda Slagg, though sadly missing this issue):

Divorce, therefore, remained expensive, demanding and often sordid. Increasingly, those who were determined to divorce arranged for one of the partners, usually the husband, to be caught in a well-staged ‘adultery’ with a professional co-respondent in a hotel room [*]. This was not a practice the country could be proud of and the 1923 Act never satisfied most feminist groups, divorce law reformers, proponents of a more relaxed sexual morality, or even some churchmen.

The footnote there [*] reads:

Seaside resorts were favoured, particularly Brighton. Divorces procured this way came to be called ‘Brighton quickies’.

Malcolm adjudges Mr McKibbin there guilty of some remarkably-talented nudge-nudge, wink-wink innuendo.

The Brighton Museum actually (and this is from Slow Sussex, believe it or not):

celebrates the resort’s role as a venue for a dirty weekend. This famously was the place a couple could get ‘a Brighton quickie’ divorce. the husband would hire a private detective to observe him signing into a hotel, with a hired ‘mistress’ acting the part as ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’. A chambermaid would ever so accidentally open the door to see the couple, and the deed was done.

140Even more bizarrerie: the only reference to all these shenanigans in the Oxford English Dictionary takes us to Rodney Quest’s dubious The Cerberus Murders of 1969 and the other end of the country:

I get reasonably well paid—enough to enable me to … have a dirty weekend in Scarborough now and again.

Err … wrong decade (by at least three) and wrong location.

Why else was the Brighton Belle so busy — and charging ‘supplementary fares’  — on a Friday night?

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1 Comment

Filed under Britain, censorship, civil rights, culture, equality, Gender, History, railways, reading, travel

One response to “Mr and Mrs Smith, indeed

  1. Pingback: Cole Porter and other animals | Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service

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