Belfast Telegraph

If you don't like the new soft, selfless me - well, tough!

By Julie Burchill

I've never been one to do things by halves - unless you count threesomes, of course, during which by definition you have only half your mind on the job at hand at any given moment.

But when it comes to more serious sex matters - marriage, to be specific - I'm a creature of extremes. I've never lived with a man I didn't marry: Tweedledee, 1979-1984, and Tweedledum, 1984-1995. (The names have been changed to irritate the heck out of the pair of them). And then for the past 15 years I've been with my third and, hopefully, final husband, Daniel - whom I've never lived with.

But all that is about to change. The black and purple zebra-print wallpaper in his spare bedroom is up, the gerbera-print tiles in the guest toilet are down, the £4,000 New York bed (black leather, superking-size, with a flat-screen TV rising up from the foot at the touch of a button and space for a games console) is up and running - and at the end of this month, in theory (I've already cancelled the moving men once), I'm moving into my husband's gorgeous duplex flat in the most beautiful seafront square in all of Brighton and Hove.

I'm not smug; for all I know it could be over by Christmas. Who's to say whether the decade-and-a-half of hell-raising, mickey-taking and five-star sun-chasing that have made my time with Daniel such a laugh-riot will stand the test of dirty socks and wrongly squeezed toothpaste tubes - those mute witnesses who put romance in the dock daily and find it guilty of going Awol?

But luckily, I'm not so keen on romance. What I'm looking for in a love-thing is sex and laughs - lots, though preferably not at the same time - and from what I've seen romance is often the bed-wetting enemy of both.

Surely my dearth of female trouble, added to the separate bedrooms and bathrooms, will work towards ensuring we get along. And the fact that I am a lark and Dan is an owl. "You won't see anything of me when I move in - promise!" I keep reassuring him. "You'll actually see less of me this summer when I've moved in than you do now!"

He looks suspicious. He's well aware of my two-timing track-record; he met me when I was shacked up with his sister. "Why? Where are you going to be?"

"Here, of course! But out swimming at the Metropole at 6.30am. And on the beach after that. And then at lunch with the ladies from about noon till three. And then on the razz with Gaz or Saz. And then it's practically dinner time. And then I'll be ready for bed!"

It's true, I have only two speeds; full-tilt and stop-still. When I'm not up all night, I'm in bed by sundown. Whereas Dan works from nine to five and then likes to enjoy his leisure time at leisure.

Oooh, just realised... he works at home! A brilliant grammarian - once Dan punctuates a sentence, it stays punctuated! - he has built up quite the portfolio as a proof reader.

People always look at me funny when I tell them what he does - "Oh, you get it for free then!" is the implication - and I suppose it is a bit of a coincidence, like a prostitute being shacked up with a gynaecologist.

As someone who works from home, I know how annoying it is for people to assume that just because you're not in an office, you're automatically available for drug-fuelled shopping sprees. Well, I was, I guess, throughout the Eighties and halfway up the Nineties.

Anyway, those days are long gone. I'm going to keep my nose clean and respect boundaries.

Similarly, though you and I probably will have to agree to disagree on some issues (Israel, Iraq, Islamism), I really hope that you will give me a hearing.

I know I've said some brash and reckless things over the years, but then I've been a hack since I was 17 and I'm 51 now.

Hopefully, with your indulgence, I can grow up a bit while I'm here. Failing that, I hope we can at least have a bit of fun.

And if you're not up for it - tough! I'm here and I'm staying. Deal with it!

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