Voices: Like James Martin, my ex committed the ultimate sin (of earning more than me)

Celebrity chef James Martin ended his relationship with Broccoli in 2008  (Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)
Celebrity chef James Martin ended his relationship with Broccoli in 2008 (Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to break up with somebody. Maybe you feel undervalued in your relationship and want to finally feel your worth. Maybe you have different values, and no matter how well you click you know you’re ultimately headed for failure down the line. Maybe the spark is gone, and you miss being held the way you were when things began.

Or maybe your partner has committed a relationship sin so grave that you have to pull the ripcord right away, and get away from this monster before they can poison your world anymore than they already have. Something so heinous that nobody would blame you for packing your bags and absconding in the middle of the night, with nary a note to explain your absence.

Celebrity chef James Martin explained that such a scenario was exactly what befell him in 2008, towards the end of his relationship with James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, when his partner betrayed him by… buying him a very expensive car.

You think you know someone.

Yes, according to the former host of Saturday Kitchen, he had no choice but to end his five-year relationship when Broccoli surprised him with a £180,000 Aston Martin.

"It wasn’t as if it was my birthday or Christmas, it was just a spur of the moment thought,” he’s now pondered. “It was a defining moment in our relationship … In the end I said, ‘If I want something, I’ll work for it. Just drop it or we’re going to fall out over this’."

Lest you think he jumped the gun, just know that Barbara also burdened the art lover with three authentic Picassos. Clearly, she was irredeemable.

The heart of the problem for Martin was that the gifts represented an “imbalance” in the relationship that he didn’t believe could be overcome. Sure, Martin is rich, but Broccoli is rich rich, and I’m afraid that just isn’t allowed. Could you imagine if your partner made more money than you, and then bought you lavish tokens of their affection? Why not just punch me in the face while you’re at it?

What makes this even worse is that, according to reports, Martin is a man. And Broccoli is a woman. Everybody knows that men are supposed to make the money, and women are supposed to give birth, knit small hats, and occasionally forage for berries. It’s been that way for millions of years, and it hasn’t caused any problems so far (I assume – I’m not a historian).

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been in this position a few times in my life, mostly during my twenties, so I sympathise with Martin here.

Our situations were a little bit different, in that instead of a celebrity chef, I was stuck in a low-paying job that just about covered my rent and not much else. And instead of buying me supercars, my partner bought the groceries and treated me to small gifts like DVDs and video games so that I wasn’t completely consumed by despair. Like Martin, though, I know a flex when I see one, so I got out of that toxic relationship as quickly as I could.

See, what men like me and James understand is that love is a competition, and the only goal is not to lose. When your partner does something nice for you, that’s a point for them – and when they buy you an Aston Martin, that’s 180,000 points for them. That’s a deficit that’s hard to come back from. At that point you have no choice but to end things, no matter how many “chef dumps broccoli” headlines it might generate.

Apparently Martin is now seeing personal trainer Kim Johnson. Let’s hope she doesn’t so something stupid, like offer to pay for dinner.