Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Shirley Valentine

“But without me?”
“Without you”. This conversation was beginning to sound like a Nilsson love song yet it was the ‘but’ in Hubby’s question that made him sound so pitiable.
“You don’t like holidays”, I tried to explain, “You go mental every time you see me look at a brochure. The words ‘half board’ and ‘all inclusive’ make you shudder, hey even our honeymoon had to be booked in secret and resulted in us traipsing around the flea bitten Chambres d’hotes of Brittany. It was never an auspicious start to this marriage.” As always, our conversation is conducted on the telephone, only this week even that has been sporadic due to Hubby being on a course somewhere where there are few mobile phone masts, excellent for the environment, rubbish for the domestic nirvana of Mr and Mrs Band.
“We’ve never got any money Alice”.
“You’ve been saying that since the mid 80’s. Had I not insisted on a week here or there over the past twenty years both you and I would be burned out shells”. He went quiet for a minute, maybe to actually digest what I was saying, after all his agenda is a killer. Night after night he finishes work way past 8pm, by the time he arrives back at the Wardroom dinner has been cleared away and so he returns to his cabin to heat through a carton of Covent Garden soup. This is not an occasional event but a nightly routine. On a Friday afternoon he drives that God-awful journey from Portsmouth to Plymouth only to find a wife chomping at the bit for adult company and a share in the domestic workload. Four children jump on him and badger him with their various emotional and monetary demands, then, once he has sorted out his laundry on a Sunday evening and packed his bag, he retires but not before setting his alarm for 4am to make the return journey to Portsmouth.
Last week was even worse. He left Portsmouth late on Thursday night, arrived home after midnight, succeeded in having breakfast with us before setting off to a local Naval establishment for a day’s debriefing, on his return, extraordinarily, we managed a brief sojourn to the pub. This was tempered however by the fact that on Saturday morning he was once again awoken by a 4am alarm call, this time to travel somewhere near Swindon for a weeks residential degree course. How can anyone sustain such a gruelling schedule? It’s totally bonkers but will he have any of it? Nope.
“Where do you expect this money for holidays to come from? How many times must I remind you about the mortgage, the bills…” I sighed, I’d reached stalemate. Like I said it is a fruitless argument, one that I have never succeeded in winning in all these years which is why, for the first time I have made an executive decision and have booked a holiday without him. At Whitsun.
It seems a perfect opportunity. Hubby will be away at work, my dear old Dad, having taken the eldest daughter last October to Egypt, feels it is her brother’s turn for adventure and so, whilst they are happily ensconced in Rome – perfect for both, plenty of culture (Dad), fashion (Son), pretty girls (equally), my girls and I will be in northern Brittany in a mobile home – with decking, on a campsite.
“But it’s abroad Alice”. The phone line was so bad I could barely make out what Hubby was saying.
“I won’t be board. I’ll have the kids to keep me busy”.
“ABROAD”, he yelled down the line.
“Anything could happen to you and how would I know?”. For the love of God. I was going to Perros Guirec, 47 miles away from Roscoff. I explained as such.
“It’s nearer than Exeter”. He was slightly mollified by this, until once again he remembered the finances.
“Tell me you haven’t paid for this with our joint account.”
“I haven’t”. He sighed in relief. The fact that my credit card was in meltdown I chose to ignore. That wasn’t the last of it though and I thought it best to tell him then and there, strike while the iron’s hot, make hay while the sun shines, etc.
“By the way, I’ve also booked a weekend away by myself”. I waited for the outraged reaction but it eluded me.
“Alice, I only have one minute’s credit remaining. I’ll call you later.”
So, I had a day in which to compose an explanation of how, after having my haircut, I’d been inspired to spend a weekend in the South of France in August – totally and utterly alone. My opportunity came as I was dishing up the children’s dinner. I find it hilarious to shout out “Table 2 away” as chefs do in restaurants when plates are ready to be carried into the dining room. The children find it far less hilarious and so grumpily, they came into the kitchen to receive their dinner. I took the call from Hubby.
“What did you say earlier?” Here we go. “Diana was cutting my hair and happened to mention that her father runs a B&B in Southern France with his friend. I looked at their website. It’s fantastic. I did something spontaneous. Booked a room for a weekend, and then booked a flight.” Attempting to soften the blow I added, “I got a flight back from Standsted to Newquay for 99p!” There was an ominous silence.
“Is this a Shirley Valentine moment?”
“Only if I don’t come back”. There was a pause. “You need a break. You could come too”.
“To France? In the middle of August? Ten euros for a bowl of fish soup?”
“Bouillabaisse”, I corrected.“Whatever. Nah, give me Cornwall any day”. So, this time I have.


Anonymous said...

My wife - one of your loyal readers - is probably reading this at home while I am surreptitiously doing the same thing at work. I'm just hoping that she isn't getting ideas... (Our finances, like much of our lives, seem to have a lot in common with yours).

Great blog, BTW.

Sally Lomax said...

Blinkin' anonymous! Who does he think he is?

I think it sounds like a GREAT idea Alice! I might have to have a word with Anon about how the finances can be rearranged!!!

Great blog Alice!

Sally Lomax said...

Alice - you had left a comment on the birthday blog........... the new commnet that you left this morning was on the orevious one! Thank you!!

Sally Lomax said...

BTW I have linked to you on today's blog. So if you get a few strangers visitng, you'll know why!

Lisa said...

I wish I could come with you!
Enjoy, enjoy, and don't feel a bit guilty, you really shouldn't!

ChrisB said...

Hi I popped over from Sally great read; enjoy your weekend away.

Alice Band said...

Lisa - I visited your blog just yesterady. Thankyou for saying hello! I don't think that I feel guilty enough about my lone trip!

Chrisb - thanks for visiting - all this attention is very exciting! How sad am I?!!

Sally, Thankyou, I just rung my editor and told him! Let them cherish me...

Roads said...

Aha, Alice. There's the link at last.

Looks like a great place for a quiet weekend, hidden away. We all deserve a bit of 'me' time, now and again.

And sod the cost. What's life for, anyway ?

Lisa said...

I've tried to reply to your comments, and they just keep getting bounced back as undeliverable!

Emma in Canada said...

Oh, it's taken me days to be allowed to comment!

I'm all for holidaying without the spouse, though in my case I would also prefer to leave the kids at home too!