Belfast Telegraph

Why television's avenging angels have nothing on a real woman scorned

By Frances Burscough

They say “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” and if the current TV dramas are anything to go by, a femme fatale with a score to settle is the worst imaginable adversary.

What, with Arya Stark brandishing her “kill list” and Daenerys Targaryen literally melting her opponents with the fire-breathing pet dragons in Game of Thrones; Detective Robin Griffin (played by Elisabeth Moss) incapacitating all her foes in Top of the Lake; and all the other current dramas where feisty female avenging angels vent their fury on the (largely male) populace. Nowadays, it seems revenge is not a dish best served cold, but rather piping hot and straight from the oven.

Personally, I’ve never really been a vengeful type. Whenever I’ve had an axe to grind in the past I’ve usually just left it blunt and tried to manage without it, figuratively speaking. But I do think I’m an unusual anomaly, especially where love rivals are concerned.

For example, I remember once hearing about a woman whose recent ex had gone away on holiday with a new girlfriend. She still had the key to his house so the day he left she let herself in ... carrying a watering can, a packet of grass seeds and some fertilizer. Two weeks later, when he returned from his trip, the central heating was blasting out on full capacity and the carpet in his “good room” was now a thick and lush green lawn, with verdant long grass covering every inch and all his scatter cushions springing to life too.

Another tale I heard tell — whether it’s true or merely an urban myth we may never know — was about a jilted woman who also took out all her frustration on her ex’s soft furnishings. In this case she slipped in one day while he was out, armed with a sewing kit and a can of anchovies (the mind boggles doesn’t it?). But what she actually did was ingenious and diabolical in equal measure. Apparently this woman (at once mad, bad and dangerous to know, I think you will agree) then proceeded to carefully unpick the hems on all the curtains in every room and then deftly inserted anchovies inside the seams before sewing them back together. Of course she won’t have been there to witness the fall-out, but suffice to say that after a couple of days his house started to smell of rotten fish. Two weeks and umpteen cans of Air Wick later, the smell was so intense he had to move out. Like I said, ingenious — but don’t quote me on that.

Now to say that I’ve never done anything with malice aforethought ever isn’t strictly speaking true. There was one day, soon after an ex and I split up and he’d moved away, when I discovered his mobile phone in my car.

There I was, left alone with his phone and my imagination. Oh, the possibilities! But there was so little time as I had to act fast before he noticed his phone was missing.

So, as I was scrawling down the screen I noticed there was a list of automatic replies that were installed on it that you could send as a message if you were too busy to compose a text. “On my way” was one. “I’m in a meeting, will call you back later” was another. And then there was “I love you”. How sweet, I thought, sarcastically. Simply press a button and the phone expresses your love when you can’t be bothered to write it yourself! So I went down his list of contacts — and there were hundreds — clicked “Select all” and sent the text to every one of them.

I love you. To his bank manager. His solicitor. His work colleagues. Politicians! Religious leaders! Before long he returned and took the phone, but not before I had a sneaky look at the replies that were coming in thick and fast. (I just couldn’t resist) “I love you too” said one (someone who obviously saw the funny side) “I didn’t know you cared!” from another with a sense of humour. It was priceless. And oh how I laughed.

Postscript: I know he sometimes reads this column, so now the mystery is finally solved of why so many of his contacts suddenly expressed their undying devotion. And why some others promptly blocked him!

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