Sunday, 25 September 2011


A few weeks ago, Hubby showed a smattering of VIPs around his place of work. I was allowed to tag along, “As long as you behave yourself Alice. No wisecracks, no flirting, no wandering off”.
“But you always forget about me”, I pouted.
“What the hell are you talking about now?”
“Whenever we go to one of your dos, you just abandon me to talk to some Captain Bligh or other; I’m left to peer miserably into the bottom of my G&T”.
“Well, as this event is during the day there won’t be any G&Ts for you to have to peer miserably into”.
“Usher me then”.
“I’ve watched other Officers and whenever they are about to embark on a walkabout with their wives they always put a gentle yet guiding arm almost imperceptibly behind their wives backs as if to say, ‘This way love’”. Hubby looked utterly bewildered.
“So imperceptible that I’ve never seen it”.
“Wills does it with Kate all the time as does Obama with Michelle as does David with Samantha or David with Victoria for that matter”. Hubby scratched his head. I helped him out.
“All I’m trying to say is that when we go for this walkabout and are about to move on, don’t stride off down some corridor with the VIPs or pop into another room with them without your hand being on the small of my back ok?”
Famous last words. We were barely off the mini bus before Hubby set about proudly showing off his department. Now I, who in the entirety of Hubby’s naval career has only really been to ‘dos’ that require a semblance of formality, was at a loss as what to wear. Hubby was already at work when I pitched up and, when I’d phoned him was unavailable for comment, which meant that when I eventually stepped off the mini-bus in kitten-heeled sling backs and a smart skirt and blazer, I was already impeding his tour. He scowled impatiently at me.
‘It’s alright for you’, I shouted silently, ‘You have an uniform to wear’. The other wives, appropriately sartorially briefed, hopped off the bus in their smart casual slacks and Clarks sandals. I click-clacked behind them, desperately trying to keep up.
The terrain couldn’t have been worse for kitten heels. As Hubby strode onto the playing fields to introduce the VIPs to some young, active, sport playing sailors, paces behind him I’d actually got stuck in the grass and, whilst my shoes stayed sunk into the turf I kept on going and performed what can only be described as a forward roll. I staggered up and gathered myself together with as much panache as is at all possible when around 50 young sailors, your Husband and his VIP party have been privy to your gusset. Hubby glared at me. I extricated my shoes from the grass, slipped them on and hurried over to him on my tippy-toes.
We were given a demonstration of teams running very fast around an obstacle course and whilst carrying a very heavy log. Practise for when called to do so when on active duty. The log presumably would be an injured comrade.
I’d seen this before somewhere and racked my brains as to where.
“Blue Peter!”, I suddenly hollered excitedly, “That’s where I’ve seen this before”.
“Oh yes”, said another wife and then whispered conspiratorially, “Gethin Jones. I would”.
The demonstration over we walked quickly back to the minibus. This time I hung on to Hubby’s arm. Our next stop was a state of the art firing school. Yet again I’d click-clacked down a corridor attempting to keep up with the others. An uniformed chap mercifully waited to show me in. It was a state of the art room. A chilling reminder of what our men and women are expertly trained to do. We were given a demonstration in shooting the enemy. It was like being in a 3D cinema experience only this time you were surrounded by baddies and not Pixar animations.
“Ma’am”, said a chap handing me a gun, “Would you like to try?”
Bloody hell. Another ignominious example of how Alice Band could make a tit of herself.
“Well, I…”
“Come on Alice”, said the Gethin Jones fan. Once again I removed my shoes and lay flat on my tummy, although this time it was a little less accidental. The gun was indescribably heavy. My heart was in my mouth. It was pitch dark. God alone knows where our troops find the endurance, tenacity and sheer courage to do this for real. Suddenly from out of nowhere, the enemy emerged. I pulled the trigger, again and again. More insurgents. Bang, bang. It was over.
The light came on. A Petty Officer who had been following events on a computer, showed me my score. Not only had I shot a few, but they’d been ‘double taps’. There was no way these baddies were getting up again.
“You are a natural born killer ma’am”, said the PO dourly. Hubby’s expression seemed to imply that he didn’t need million pound equipment to tell him what he already knew.
Another double whammy featured large and looming in the Band household this week. Two milestones were reached. My son’s A level results and my eldest daughter’s 16th birthday. Pow-pow. Both on the same day. An emotional rollercoaster that saw me oscillating between the party girl, her guests and her presents, my mobile which was continually receiving texts with friends’ kids’ results and Hubby, who was in the kitchen pacing, furious with a son who, by some miracle, passed his A levels with fairly decent grades.
“He didn’t even read the books”, I said. We were in mourning for the grades he could have achieved had he actually applied himself. My mobile vibrated. A text.
‘Nicky got 3 As. Reading biology at York. Yours?’ My fingers texted back: ‘3 Cs. Reading Music Magazines at Torpoint’.

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