On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach

The new film On Chesil Beach of the book by Ian McEwan is now in cinemas. It will perhaps bring back some memories for anyone that married in the 1960s, with the period captured wonderfully. Set primarily in 1962, it is the story of a newly-wed couple Edward (Billy Howle) and Florence (Saoirse Ronan) who discover that they are unprepared for the intimacy of marriage.

At the time of the story, the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s had barely begun, indeed Penguin Books had only recently (November 1960) won their case to publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Despite the reality of millions of daily lives, Britain was generally rather poor at sex education. Edward and Florence lack any real understanding of each other intimately. The church would of course argue that a lifetime of marriage would gradually facilitate intimacy, whilst such an answer for many is workable, where trauma and intimacy collide, there is little comfort in glib answers. Florence offers a different option, one that Edward simply cannot face.

Sweet Sorrow?

Spoiler alert – the marriage does not last the day and is annulled. Unlike the book, we do not follow the characters much beyond the moment of decision on Chesil Beach. Decisions are made, tempers are lost, and parting was not a sweet sorrow.

In our contemporary society, relationships now take various forms, it was not until 1973 that the Matrimonial Causes Act made the case for divorce clear (beyond annulment). This despite all our somewhat hypocritical history about personal conduct in aspects of sexual intimacy and marriage. Henry VIII managed to get what he wanted and created the Church of England as a consequence. The law is flexible for those with power, as perhaps you noticed in the recent BBC dramatization about Jeremy Thorpe (A Very English Scandal).

Life can be Messy

The problem with most financial planning is that real life tends to get in the way and muck things up. Life is not nice, neat straight lines, well not for most. We might wish that everything was very each to model, but the truth is that it is of course complex, nuanced and on occasion vexing. One of the most significant aspects that will impact your financial planning will be your marital status. Any change in this will create an obvious need to review your plans, yet many don’t see past the Form E (financial statement required for a divorce) and to be blunt, I’m always surprised that lawyers do not wish all sides to undergo some basic (or complex) financial assessment with proper cashflow modelling for their new scenarios. Perhaps few have experienced the benefit of this.

In any event, life is messy. Sometimes we all need to make changes that we did not expect. This might be marriage, divorce, redundancy, addictions, debt… and so on, a plethora of possibilities that were not expected. So, I tend to get a little, well, dismissive of advisers who think that a cashflow plan is the done deal – the future is mapped out, life is now a beach…. I would be quick to point out the massive advantage of cashflow planning, we use it for all our clients, but it does have its short-comings and like anything else, garbage in, garbage out, but reading a forecasted future as anything other than an option would be unwise at best. We may all crave certainty, but there is none when it comes to living life. I advise all clients that the plan is not set in stone, it will be wrong, but it is today a very good guess about he future, based upon sensible assumptions that need regular reviewing.

The Unvarnished Truth

It is not a crime to admit things need to be changed. That your plans must alter, that is normal. What is a crime (in a sense) is pretending that everything is ok when it isn’t. You may never have a Chesil Beach moment, but may I propose that a relationship with a financial planner, requires honesty and the ability to listen, discuss and think together.

On Chesil Beach is now in cinemas, here is the trailer. I enjoyed the film, beautifully shot and poignant storytelling 7/10.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk