When the marriage she believed to be happy and secure came to an abrupt end, PAULINE CLAYTON came to realise that the new woman in her husband’s life had actually done her a favour. This is Pauline’s story.

When my husband left me for another woman, I was devastated.

In shock, babbling and dysfunctional, I lost 22 lbs (10 kgs) in six weeks.

She wasn’t even a younger woman, just different and new to him.

I had become boring he said.

It took me a good 12 months to get my head up out of the fugue and start living again.

Another year or so on and the features editor of the newspaper asked us all to pen our Christmas wish and so I wrote a letter to the woman who, in my view, had taken my husband.

Here it is:

“Dear Jan,

This is a Christmas greeting and my heartfelt thanks and good wishes to you.

For on reflection you are responsible for the rich, stimulating and full life I am now leading.

There is no denying the first two years after David left me for you were hellish.

But now I live alone and I like it.

I have a beautiful 100-year-old, perfectly restored colonial house near a river and park.

There are mandevillia and bourgainvillea over the verandah, lashings of iron lace work, high ceilings, and red cedar windows shutters.

Best of all I have wonderful neighbours (their house has been in the family for three generations) who not only care for my garden when I am travelling but care for me when I am home – roast dinners on Sunday night, that sort of thing.

I have put the former marital double bed in one of the two spare bedrooms and luxuriate in my new queen size bed with embossed linen (purchased during a recent trip to the USA).

Of course I don’t always sleep alone, but I have the choice.

I have not had to cook a meal in nearly three years. It is wonderful, I never really liked cooking all that much.

The owners of a local restaurant now treat me as a close friend (I often go to their home after they close shop for a glass of champagne in the Jacuzzi).

Two of my new male friends own restaurants, so gone are the days of supermarket shopping and dish washing.

I do keep a pantry, olives and wafer biscuits and the like, but it is the fridge that disqualifies me from a good housekeeping rating.

Currently bottles of Verve Cliquot, a few bottles of German beer (for guests, I still don’t drink it), half a dozen bottles of Taylor’s white wine, and under the house, in what is a growing wine cellar, some marvellous reds.

As president of the Queensland Wine Press Club I can get the best of everything wholesale.

The dairy shelf is most useful for lipsticks and the door shelving perfect for nail polish, along with creams, lotions and potions, as one sets time these days to have facials and soak in a long bath. I often wondered if you enjoyed your time in the United States with my former husband.

I love it and have been back three times since I came home from there to find David had met you in a bar and was lying to me about the relationship.
Three Wise Women solo travel adventure single women divorcees widow

In Paleange with Auntie May learning to make a palm plate

I have also been to China (twice), Manchuria and most stimulating, North Korea, a first for western journalists in 35 years.

I have drunk Bushmill’s whiskey in Northern Ireland, Guinness (David’s favourite) in a village pub in Yorkshire and bought fake Gucci bags in Bangkok and incredibly cheap, equally as fake, Cartier and Rolex watches in Hong Kong.

Been back to London since David and I were there, but instead of a flat in Earl’s Court, I stayed at the Hilton in Park Lane.

All this first class travel, I appreciate, is because of my job. But even when it ends I have made great new friends and established a life style I will ensure continues when I stop travelling for a living.

David said he left me because I got boring.

He was right Jan, life did get boring with David. But it certainly isn’t that way now.

That is why I’m writing to you as I finally realise that had it not been for you, I might still be sitting on the Gold Coast bored out of my mind. For that I thank you.”

My editor did not print this Christmas wish, but I did post it to the woman in question.