Age, we’re often told, is just a number—which means it’s subject to the same creative accounting as any other number. Charles Villiers—a distant relative of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall—now knows this to his great, great cost. In the latest twist in the Tarantino-grade separation saga that has so intrigued English society, the former magazine publisher has claimed that his estranged wife of nearly two decades diddled her own age to the tune of five years—costing him a larger litter in the process.

In Dickens’s Bleak House, the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes to satirize the groaning intractability of the Victorian legal system, where original disputes snowball into a sticky mass of paperwork and ill will, where petty grievances are strung out for generations, and where nobody wins and everybody loses (except, it should be said, for the lawyers). In England’s divorce courts, the case of Villiers and Villiers is currently giving all that a bloody good run for its money—not that there’s any of the stuff left.