Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3625 Set by Margaret Rogers Now that the government appears to want schools to promote marriage as A Good Thing, we asked for words describing this wonderful institution.

Report by Ms de Meaner

No space, you cynics, in which to castigate you! Hon menshes to T Griffiths and Andrew Wilcox. £15 to the winners; the bottle goes to D A Prince.


From: Jack Straw/To: David Blunkett

May I wholeheartedly urge you to maintain your insistence on the teaching of the positive values of marriage. Recent Home Office figures show that no fewer than 76 per cent of all murders take place between marriage partners, or involve the children of married parents. If marriage were to fall into disuse, then murder figures would fall to negligible proportions. Large numbers of police officers, judges and prison warders would become redundant. (By the way, the greatest number of murders occur at Christmas; Diwali and Hanukkah have nothing like the same impact - so go easy on the multiculturalism!) Moreover, a major element in British culture would be undermined. No more Ruth Rendell, no more Colin Dexter.

Over half of all marriages end in divorce. Without marriage, no divorce, and unemployment for thousands of lawyers, court officials and marriage guidance counsellors. Add on inheritance disputes and child abuse and we're looking at economic disaster. The closing down of marriage would make Rover look like a vicar's tea party.

Ian Birchall

Marriage strengthens the muscles. You lift for two. You push for two. You open the throat and shout for two. Marriage focuses the art of conversation. You will learn the oratorial tricks of a Cicero, and the high, tempting vocalic tricks of Caruso. Marriage is the perfect antidote to a quiet night in. It teaches a valuable intemperance to the meek, and tempers the bluster of the boastful. Marriage promotes sleep. The unmarried are carefree and can eat convenience food, whereas marriage induces a frightening uncertainty, both in timekeeping and in cookery. Marriage ensures that a recipe can be tested and, usually, disposed of. Marriage is also an incentive to charity. Whether you are presented with two of everything, or already possess the exactly matching accessories, you will have more than enough to donate to collections, to car-boot sales, to that great process of recycling. Marriage is uniquely dangerous. It introduces a healthy suspicion into the art of existence, and promotes that singular spirit of independence so lacking in the lives of the unwed. The romance of the prospect of separate destinations! Marriage is also especially effective in collecting contrastive furniture.

Will Bellenger

Q: What is New Marriage?

A: New Marriage is a customer-focused, choice-based institution meeting the needs of those seeking to formalise love-centred relationships in a legal/spiritual framework.

Q: Do you have to believe in God?

A: No. Belief in God frequently results in feelings of guilt and disappointment when New Marriage fails. Divorce counsellors recommend values such as open communication and individual fulfilment.

Q: What about fidelity?

A: Relationship breakdown specialists now agree that fidelity is an unrealistic aspiration.

Q: Should I take vows I can't keep?

A: Postmodernism suggests that vows mean only what we think they mean at the moment we take them. It can only be a matter of time before this view permeates down to the divorce courts.

Q: What about children?

A: Most partners these days bring their own. The emphasis in New Marriage is on having children. Raising them is left to the increased creche provision and homework clubs, ensuring children are rarely around to pressurise your relationship.

Q: And if it all goes wrong?

A: If it all goes wrong, a quickie New Divorce is the pain-free, blame-free way back to the single life.

Adrian Fry

GCSE Worksheet 4 (Multidisciplinary Studies)

Think about the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

a) What is the ratio of weddings to funerals? (Maths Studies)

b) Which are there more of? (Volume Studies)

Have you ever been to a wedding? Write a poem or a story or a play with the title A Happy Wedding. (Literature Studies)

Think of a real marriage that you have read about, eg, Posh and Becks. Collect newspaper/magazine cuttings about one of the following:

1) how being married means they can wear fashionable clothes (Fashion Studies)

2) how often their marriage gets into the papers (Media Studies)

3) what they can afford in their lovely home now they are married (Interior Design Studies)

4) how baby Brooklyn is cared for by happily married parents (Childcare Studies)

5) how to plan a big wedding with OK! as a basis for a happy marriage (Social/ Religious Studies)

6) the ideal weight/shape for sustaining a happy marriage (Nutrition Studies)

Make a list of key pointers to a successful marriage. You will find ideas in OK! (copies in library). Eg, matching cars; his'n'hers tattoos; interesting hair.

D A Prince

No 3628 Set by Ben Ross

David Blunkett has defined a broken pledge as one "intended partly as a joke". We want the next new Labour manifesto, indicating which pledges fall into this category. Max 200 words and in by 11 May.


This article first appeared in the 01 May 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Why I am voting for Ken Livingstone