Before divorce was fashionable, there were very few options for the unhappily married man. The French tradition of taking a mistress was thought too smutty for the British and, apart from stoicism, there was little available to Johnny Regret except wistfulness or beer.
But all that changed when marriage ointment became available on prescription, and many a troubled coupling became a blissful union again. However, the wonder tincture was a victim of its own roaring success. By the mid-1960s, the government was spending more on marriage ointment than on defence and the search for the Loch Ness monster, and something had to be done to reduce the crippling outlay.
Hiding licences, the brainchild of Lord Lucan, were introduced in January 1968, enabling scores of glum hubbies to run away and hide in complete happiness for the rest of their lives. But even this wasn’t enough to significantly dent the national expenditure, and eventually divorce became the only affordable option, which led to the NOI’s gentle “Give The Old Bat The Heave-Ho” campaign in 1972.