Monday, 24 November 2008

Mothers Ruin.

To Hubby’s intense irritation Mags came round the other evening. Just as the football started. We haven’t seen each other for a while and we had a lot to talk about, and as he tutted and grumbled and moved nearer and nearer to the television set, she and I got more and more animated.
When you have known someone for as long as Mags and I have known each other, no subject if off limits and over the years we have discussed, at great length, and over innumerable wine varietals, the various trials and tribulations that life has not only thrown at us, but also those around us, celebrities notwithstanding.
And so it came to pass, that after we’d ruminated over the ‘did he jump/was he pushed’ John Sergeant debacle, we turned our attention to marriage. This made Hubby even more uncomfortable and I saw him shift uneasily in his chair as I regaled Mags with the pitiful story of a woman I’d met recently whose husband is a submariner.
“Thing is Mags”, I said, “Once they sail, that’s it for weeks and weeks on end. No contact. So when your child has appendicitis and you crash your car on the way to the hospital, no amount of emailing is going to get him flown home to hold your hand. It sucks and I’ve found being the Navy wife of a ‘skimmer’ bad enough but, in an emergency, well some emergencies, he has managed to come back to me or at least be aware of my trauma and of course, now that he is shore based and here every night..,” and we both looked at the fine figure of a Naval officer, almost hugging the TV in an old punk t-shirt, seen-better-days tracksuit bottoms (although it begs the question, have tracksuit bottoms ever seen better days, given that they are, in my opinion, the most vile bits of cloth ever sewn in a sweat shop), and a pair of old, old slippers somehow attached to his feet. I pressed on,
“Yes well, things are easier. He’s around to give me a hand at bedtime and to shout louder at the kids. My resentment isn’t what it was and, given the nature of his job, can be quite social”.
“What do you mean ‘can be’ Alice?”, called Hubby without looking around, “I’m forever taking you out, hell only last week..”.
“I was just getting on to that point. Watch the football”. I shrugged. Mags refilled my glass, asking as she poured, “Where did you go?”
“Plymouth’s top hot spot! The gin distillery”.
“Oh wow”, said Mags, sitting up, “Our favourite bar. Was the dishy cocktail bar-man there?”
Hubby, who regularly ignores what I have to say, turned in his chair and looked over the top of his glasses, questioningly.
“He’s just a kid”, I appeased and Hubby turned his attention once more to the screen. “No Mags, as my handsome husband was with me, I didn’t notice any other man”. Mags and I stifled a giggle, “Anyway it wasn’t just about the drinking, we were actually given a private tour of the distillery”. Mags looked blank. “You know, where they actually distil gin?”
It was an epiphany to Mags; as though for the first time she’d actually twigged that gin didn’t just come from the optics behind a bar but in point of fact had to be cooked up and bottled first.
“It was fascinating. We were taken to a room to smell all the herbs and spices that go into Plymouth Gin, the ‘botanicals’..”
“Something went in that night then apart from the alcohol Alice”, interrupted Hubby. Ignoring him I continued, “The botanicals, which are thus: essential Juniper berries; Angelica Root from Saxony; Cardamom Pods from Sri Lanka; Coriander Seeds from eastern Europe; Lemon and Orange peel from Spain; and Orris Root from Italy.” Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Mags smiled, “How long does it take to make?”
“That’s the best bit”, I said, “Only eight hours. Jeeze my Christmas pudding took longer than that!”
“So you got to sample?” asked Mags crunching on some Kettle crisps. It was the last intolerable straw.
“Would the two of you please just bugger off” barked Hubby, “I can’t stand your incessant muttering and munching”.
“Get him”, said Mags, gathering our glasses, the wine and carrying the packet of crisps under her chin, “let’s go into the kitchen”.
As Mags gently laid our drinks on the kitchen counter, she spied a jar of jewel red cranberry sauce, sparkling under the halogen lights.
“Oh no. You haven’t? Not already? Not with working as well and five kids?” she made to kill me.
I didn’t know whether to look smug or sheepish. “Look cranberry sauce takes a nano-second to make. The fact that up there,” and I waved at the shelf, “there are jars of pickled onions and a Christmas pudding, well, that would indicate that I am in fact, super-woman”.
Mags glugged her wine, “And I am so inadequate. So, how is the job?”
The job I told her, is a young person’s game. I am too old in the tooth to excuse appalling spelling, wholly inventive grammar and texting in a lesson. And that’s just the teachers.
“The staff are so young they don’t appreciate my old-fashioned ways. I am an anachronism. As obsolete as an original Playstation. There are only two teachers in my department who can remember when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister”.
“That’s not such a bad thing,” said Mags through a mouthful of crisps.
“And ‘media’ wasn’t invented when I started out. Somehow I’ve got to teach them all about Jean Baudrillard”.
“Who does he play for?” asked Hubby, walking into the kitchen at half-time, searching for munchies.
“Hyper-Real Madrid”, I replied, flatly.


It's just me said...

TO my shame, I hat to go and google him to have any idea who he is. And I like to think myself reasonably well-read....

sally's hubby said...

Ditto comment from "it's just me", above.

As an ex-submariner, I can testify to some of the difficulties that that way of life can cause (as, I'm sure, can Sal). And we had it slightly easier than some, because didn't have any children at the time. All a very long time ago now.


Anonymous said...

I am convinced that, were I to share a bottle of wine with you, I would be hard-pressed to keep up with the listening end of the conversation!

However, I would be happy to smile and nod and suggest we go to the Distillery! Or just stay home and eat Kettle crisps. ;)

Sally said...

I laughed as always. Come and teach in our school. It's full of middle aged women. I feel quite comfortable really.

It's just me said...

I'm with kcinnova - Bring on the wine and gossipage!

Mary Alice said...

"There are only two teachers in my department who can remember when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister"

That was the part that made me laugh out loud! And the botanicals in the gin....oh it sounds divine.

Mary Alice said...

PS I forgot to tell you that I saw a youngish neighbor/military wife the other day and as we exchanged pleasantries, she asked if MM would be coming home for Christmas...although she is fully aware that his deployment isn't over until spring. I was a little confused, surely being a military spouse she did understand that they don't shut the war down for a Christmas break? Fly them all home for their Christmas Cake on the back of Santa's sleigh? Oh dear. I fear the realities of military life may come as a shock to her after her Officer and Gentleman fantasies come to a squealing halt.