There is, I believe, a self-help organisation the name of which is the acronym WOMB Now you might think that its purpose is mutual support for women who are unable to conceive, or even those who conceive too easily. A friend of ours said in the early years of her marriage that all her husband had to do for her to become pregnant was to throw his trousers on the bed. You might think that WOMB might be for women with some rare gynaecological problem or for those who had difficulties coping with the aftermath of hysterectomies. Not so. You would be wrong. WOMB stands for Wives Of Mean Bastards.

If you are not married to one, you can’t have the remotest idea what hell it is to live with a mean bastard. When I say ‘mean’, that’s not a man who is tight with money and careful to make the family budget balance. I don’t mean one who still has his communion money, wears his shirts until the collars are frayed, or wears his shoes until he is walking along beside them. No, mean bastards are from another planet.

A mean bastard will read the electricity meter before he goes to work to be sure his wife does not use more than the daily allocation of units he allows her. He probably brings the telephone receiver to work with him to ensure that she cannot make calls during the day. When his wife goes to the supermarket do the week’s shopping she must bring home the receipt for her husband’s inspection to check that she hasn’t bought any unnecessary item and those that she has bought are not of the more expensive brands. When his wife needs a new pair of tights she must bring him the old pair for inspection to be sure they are no longer usable.

Well, you may think some wives are spendthrifts, which can be a serious problem. Their husbands may have to keep a tight rein on the family purse strings in the struggle to make ends meet. This may well be so, but this is not the profile of your average mean bastard. No, the average mean bastard is a well heeled member of one of the professions or runs a successful business. He probably drives a top of the range BMW or Jaguar while his wife drives a ten or fifteen year old clapped out Nissan Micra. He is likely to be a hail-fellow-well-met member of a golf club where he is known as a generous buyer of drinks for all and sundry. For the club annual dinner or for business social events his wife appears in the most expensive outfit that he keeps under lock and key and hands out for the night.

If you were married to man like that, in order to survive you would have two options. Save up secretly from your tights allowance and buy a gun or join WOMB. The latter would have fewer complications, but you would probably have to walk to meetings.

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