THE THREE­SOME EV­ERY MAR­RIAGE NEEDS (it’s not what you think!).

Nov­el­ist LIZ FREMANTLE and jew­eller DINNY HALL are such close friends they couldn’t imag­ine liv­ing apart – but where does Dinny’s part­ner Piers fit in? ‘There are three of us in this re­la­tion­ship

The Mail on Sunday - You - - Editor's Letter - REPORT JU­DITH WOODS PHO­TO­GRAPHS KEIRON TOVELL

Have you ever had that dreamy con­ver­sa­tion with your girl­friends about the fu­ture? You know the one; it’s where you pledge to sell up and move in to­gether once the planet has run out of sin­gle men and/or the chil­dren have left home. In the­ory, it makes per­fect sense – un­til you re­alise that in prac­tice a house­ful of women would drive you bonkers. Oh, and you also have a part­ner, re­mem­ber him? He’s def­i­nitely not a com­mune sort of guy.

But what about a cosy three­some? You, your soul­mate and your best mate es­cap­ing to the coun­try, far from the madding crowd and shar­ing pretty much ev­ery­thing. Yes, tongues might wag in the vil­lage shop, but a lit­tle gos­sip is a small price to pay for a thor­oughly mod­ern mé­nage à trois, as jew­ellery de­signer Dinny Hall has dis­cov­ered.

When she and her part­ner Piers Blofeld (nephew of for­mer cricket com­men­ta­tor Henry) moved out of Lon­don into a ram­bling farm­house in Nor­folk last year, she couldn’t bear the thought of leav­ing her best friend be­hind. And so she in­vited his­tor­i­cal nov­el­ist Liz Fremantle to come, too. ‘I asked Piers how he felt about it first,’ says Dinny. ‘He replied that he’d ex­pected Liz to be in­volved be­cause he knew how close we were and as he also en­joyed her com­pany, it seemed like a mar­vel­lous idea.’

As we all sit drink­ing cof­fee in the sum­mer still­ness of their gar­den, it’s easy to see why Dinny and Liz fell in love with the place. For Piers, a lit­er­ary agent at Sheil Land As­so­ciates, this cor­ner of Nor­folk is his an­ces­tral home; he and Dinny rent it from his el­der brother Tom who in­her­ited the sprawl­ing Hove­ton es­tate.

‘I’m a Lon­doner through and through,’ ob­serves Liz, with a be­mused sigh. ‘I love liv­ing some­where so leafy, but Dinny is the only per­son in the world who could have per­suaded me to leave the city.’ Blonde and wil­lowy, Liz is a charm­ing foil to Dinny, who is fab­u­lously out­spo­ken, with a take-no-pris­on­ers sense of hu­mour. Piers, by con­trast, is the very em­bod­i­ment of an­cien régime good hu­mour and well-bred af­fa­bil­ity.

‘The great thing about Liz be­ing here is that I can wan­der off all day with a chain­saw and Dinny

won’t feel aban­doned,’ he says mildly. ‘We do things sep­a­rately and to­gether; Liz and I watch the foot­ball, whereas Dinny and Liz watch Strictly – it means I dodge that bul­let. They also go to pi­lates, whereas Liz and I will ac­com­pany each other to lit­er­ary events in Nor­wich or Lon­don.’

These three trail­blaz­ers re­flect a key so­cial shift in how older peo­ple are re­assess­ing their lives. Aca­demics call it co-hous­ing; where peo­ple over 50 live in shared ‘in­ten­tional’ com­mu­ni­ties as a way of re­duc­ing so­cial iso­la­tion – with its proven neg­a­tive im­pact on both men­tal and phys­i­cal health – and of­fer­ing sup­port to one an­other in the decades ahead. It makes sense now we’re all liv­ing longer.

It also makes for fun. Pre­sen­ter Mariella Frostrup re­cently ad­mit­ted she’s been beg­ging fe­male friends to move in with her and her hus­band, hu­man rights lawyer Ja­son McCue, after her own jolly mé­nage à trois re­cently came to an end. ‘My best friend, who was liv­ing with us, went back to Florence and it’s very lonely with­out her,’ the 55-year-old mother-of-two said. ‘My life is bereft. I want her back.’

Here in East Anglia, Liz, Dinny and Piers are clearly mak­ing their three­some work. They spark off one an­other in­tel­lec­tu­ally and laugh­ter con­stantly bubbles up, as well it might; what could in­stil greater cheer than friends with ben­e­fits in a syl­van idyll? ‘Let’s make it plain: the ben­e­fits do not ex­tend to the bed­room,’ points out Dinny firmly. ‘Only Piers and I share a bed.’

Liz adds her voice for ex­tra em­pha­sis: ‘We may be Blooms­bury in the Broads, but with­out the sex; the only meet­ings are of minds. Dinny and Piers are fab­u­lous, good-look­ing peo­ple, of course they are, but that’s as far as it goes.’ This is slightly dis­ap­point­ing, not least be­cause Liz has had re­la­tion­ships with both men and women in the past, which is, by def­i­ni­tion, a thrillingly Blooms­bury Set thing to do. Piers puts paid to any lin­ger­ing doubts. ‘Liz is an at­trac­tive woman but ours is a sib­ling type of re­la­tion­ship and the bound­aries are so clear we’ve never even needed to speak about them,’ he says. ‘For ex­am­ple, I wouldn’t dream of pop­ping over and ask­ing Liz for a cup of sugar if we ran out. I’d drive to the shop.’

‘Would you re­ally?’ asks Dinny in as­ton­ish­ment. ‘Hon­estly?’ echoes Liz.

‘Yes, and I have done just that,’ Piers says. ‘It’s a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple.’

By this stage, you will have gath­ered that al­though the three tech­ni­cally live un­der the same roof, they re­side in and rent sep­a­rate cot­tages – al­beit with an in­ter­con­nect­ing door. Liz al­ways knocks first if Piers is at home. Piers al­ways knocks. Dinny and her schnau­zer Bo wan­der about at will. ‘I think we’ve all reached the age where we are

LIZ and DINNY are best friends

And they all live HERE DINNY and PIERS are part­ners

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.