Tuesday, 1 July 2008


“Get your glad rags on”, Hubby reminded me, “I’ll pick you up on the other side of the ferry at 19.15”.
The invitation to a cocktail party aboard a Dutch frigate had been gracing my mantel piece for a couple of weeks. In the past I’ve been wary of these functions, mostly because Hubby was some lowly officer and I therefore had to mind my station not to mention how many drinks I threw down my neck. It’s easily done. A tray of drinks seems to be circulating the hanger constantly and, because you don’t know anyone and are a little nervous, well needs must.
These days, with Hubby at the zenith of his naval career, the only way is down, meaning, apart from my handbag, I have nothing to lose so, I look forward to these do’s where after a gin and tonic or two and with rather disconcerting aplomb, I can let my hair down.
Walking onto the ferry that evening I felt even more confident. My weigh-in had been triumphant, my hair was behaving itself and I felt very trendy in my new high-heeled wedges. It was a fabulous evening, the sea was blue and the sun was shining, allowing me to don my shades, adding, I felt, to my air of glamour.
Hubby as promised was there to meet me. He wolf whistled as I disembarked and was about to sweep me off my heels and kiss me but, having just applied a new lippy, the last thing I wanted was for ‘Raisin No 17’ to be smeared not only all over my face, but also his clean shirt and deftly, I managed to dodge his embrace so that he got a mouthful of clean Timotei flavoured hair instead.
“Cheers”, he said, extricating long strands of hair from his mouth.
“Sorry, that’s all you’re getting for now”, I replied patting his arm before adding, “God I’m starving”. That’s the trouble with being on a diet, the awful yearning ‘ I could eat anything’, hunger. I wake in the morning wondering whether to have muesli with fat-free yogurt or muesli with skimmed milk. I eat my rice cakes at lunchtime longing to take an enormous bite out of a warm tiger bloomer filled with strong cheese and thickly sliced gammon ham, a packet of Walker’s Sensations on the side. At dinner time as I watch my family tuck into creamy, parmaseny spaghetti carbonara and garlic bread, I stoically nibble away at a fillet of poached salmon and yet more salad, repeating the mantra of ‘it’ll all be worth it, it’ll all be worth it’.
On this particular evening I hadn’t eaten a smidgen beforehand as I wanted to be able to indulge on the canapé that are served at these affairs and, knowing how partial the Dutch are to a bit of nasi goreng and satay sauce and how partial I too am to such fattening titbits, dinner had to be sacrificed.
We were piped on board in the usual style, although my new shoes, which had yet to navigate a ship’s gangway, let me down and as I stepped down onto the ship I stumbled straight into the captain’s arms. Pretending this is what British wives do, I went on to hug him, before, in the Dutch way of greeting: kissing him three times. To give him his due, he did not recoil but laughed, saying to Hubby, “You have an affectionate wife Commander Band!”
Hubby grimaced before leading me, my elbow in his vice like grip, to meet his colleagues. As we chatted, a tray of champagne cocktails was presented to me; I took one and sipped it. It was divine. A heady mix of Amaretto and champagne graced with a maraschino cherry. Thank God for the cherry, because, apart from a couple of bits of ham impaled onto the end of cocktail stick, cherries were the only consistent victuals I saw all night. It didn’t seem right to mine sweep the drinks just to remove the cherries and so, what’s a girl to do? I had to drink the drink as well. One can only imagine, after having eaten barely a thing all day the effect of a few cocktails and one or two glasses of wine has on a dieting girl.
As I stood leaning against Hubby, who was in deep conversation with his colleagues, my new heels began to play merry hell with my feet and I sucked on my cherry with renewed fervour, anything to distract myself from my pain, my hunger, my encroaching inebriation and my present company. Do these men never get bored with talking about their bloody jobs? They had worked together all day for heaven’s sake, in fact Hubby had spent the previous evening with them at dinner and, when they came home to our house for coffee, far from attempting to engage in flirtatious banter with me, they continued their Navy parlance with the same zeal as they would in the mess. I knew not of what they spoke but it would seem that they had dished out several B.S’s.
Finally, as I stifled a yawn, an old face wandered over.
“Hello shipmate. Alice. Long time, no see”, he said.
“Still drinking Alice?”, his tone was reproachful, thinly veiled by a smile. What the hell did it have to do with him? I smelled a familiar rat. He tried again.
“So, when are you getting a bigger car then?” That was it. I was still fat. Five weeks of strict calorific self denial combined with far too much alcohol was a heady combination.
“I am not pregnant”, I barked, leaning towards him menacingly. Unfortunately, whether I fell off my shoes or passed out I’ll never know but I hit the deck a most undignified heap.
“You’re drunk”, he said as Hubby pulled me to my feet.
“And you, to paraphrase Nancy Astor, are a horrid man, but tomorrow I will be sober”.


Mary Alice said...

The Bastard. My personal advise to men who have said anything about pregnancy to a woman who wasn't, is this. "Unless you see an actual head crowning at the vaginal opening NEVER assume a woman is pregnant. Say nothing."
I am doing Weight Watchers right now....so I can clearly empathize with your overwhelming hunger and the rapidity with which the drinkies can hit you.

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice - Here, here! I coudln't agree more. Good luck with the WW thing - I've tried that before but the woman who runs it in our town it useless!

Alice Band said...

By the way Mary Alice, It's very early in the morning for you. Get some sleep, less eating time...

Mary Alice said...

Why do you think I'm up so early? I had to go to bed at 8 to avoid the hunger!

Hen said...

Well said...glad I'm not his wife!

enidd said...

bah, the hunger, the hunger. enidd has just had runny cheese for lunch - it's not going to be a good day.

Eloise said...

Bravo, Alice! I'm proud of you for setting that goon in his place. Loved your tale. You're a wonderful storyteller.