His ex-wife was American, and although I hadn’t met her at the time — and indeed had played no part in the break-down of their marriage — I’d formed a graphic mental image of her. I, too, liked to cook, but in that instant I believed I could never match up to my predecessor.
I also felt like a wet-behind-the-ears young intruder into Nigel’s older circle of established friends.
Just as he made a crack at her expense, he saw her out of the corner of his eye and that was it: he felt the irresistible pull an ex-wife so often exerts. But what would have happened if he had started a new relationship before the old spark was rekindled?
His new partner would doubtless have fallen prey to the dreadful insecurities of Second Wife Syndrome.
As a second wife, one always lives with insecurities. I wish I could say otherwise, but I have been married four times and two of my former husbands, the publicist David Wynne-Morgan and advertising executive Nigel Grandfield, had ex-wives.
I recall attending a smart dinner party in St John’s Wood, London, with Nigel, my third husband, and a couple whose friendship with him dated back to his first marriage.
His former wife, of course, had exactly the right sort of hands to set off a manicure.
Comedian John Bishop and his wife split up and were deep into a bitter divorce when she slipped into the audience at one of his gigs.
Indeed, once a year or so, Michael and I meet them for supper or a social event; we regard them as good friends.
So often it is the first wives who evoke the compassion and understanding when their marriages fail.
Meanwhile their beleaguered successors are scorned and spurned.
During that uncomfortable evening, all my latent anxieties were awakened.
It happened when I complimented the hostess on her delicious savoury souffle starter.‘I’d love to have the recipe,’ I said, and wreathed in smiles she said she’d be delighted to share it with me.
David, my second husband, married again after we split up; indeed he is still with his wife Karin.