Saturday, 31 March 2012


Hubby’s departure from the homestead is imminent. I don’t need to feel it in my waters as there is evidence all around me. He has started to stockpile his stuff. There are little mounds around the house that belong to him ready to be packed and driven away. CDs, books, new socks and unfamiliar pants litter the stairs in a most perilous manner. Long lost shirts and sweaters have been excavated from the back of the wardrobe; some have not passed muster, the moths having feasted but, some have been washed and pressed and hang on backs of doors, like immaculately ironed spectres, waiting for their new haunt in an unfamiliar cabin, somewhere in Wiltshire, a place where we, his family, have no place and do not belong.
For the next twenty months or so, Hubby will live a life and conduct his business completely outside our realm of understanding. We have no points of reference to imagine him in situ. We cannot picture where he will sleep, where he will eat, his office or his colleagues. It is all very disconcerting.
Hubby, for the first time in a 35 year career is not excited about this last chapter. He has been so very happy in his last job that it is such a shame that his final appointment in the Royal Navy is taking away from home and to a place which is unfamiliar, even to him.
His departure is also affecting our marriage. There is still three weeks to go before he finally leaves, yet our biorhythms must know that something is afoot as we have, to our youngest children’s great disgust, become a bit lovey-dovey.
Even Mags was taken aback when she called in last week and happened upon Hubby and me, in the kitchen, snogging.
“Oh put her down”, she scolded, “it’s not right, people of your age, conducting yourselves in such a manner”.
“They do it all the time Mags”, added our ten year old, wandering into the kitchen on the search for some Ribena, “I’m scared to walk around the house in case I catch them doing it”.
Mags raised her eyebrows, luckily as our girl is only 10 and therefore couldn’t possibly imagine (I sincerely hope), the, permutations and double entendre of ‘doing it’, she was only referring to us kissing.
“Are they now?” asked Mags, “Well, it must be better to see a mummy and daddy love each other so much than those who are always rowing and shouting at each other”.
“I guess you’re right” replied our daughter, although she wasn’t entirely convinced. It’s peculiar how we react to being parted from one another. There are tell-tale stages. We are starting to cling to each other and are indulging in a bit of smooching. Hubby rings me from work and tells me that he loves me far more frequently than usual and I am buying him little love tokens, just to show him that his feelings are reciprocated. Freshly made Peanut butter fudge from Roly’s in Totnes for example, was met with disproportionate joy.
“Oh my God Alice!”, he said popping a chunk into his mouth and as it melted, his eyes shut just so that he could savour the experience. Funny little moans emanated from him.
“Ok, ok, I get the idea. You love the fudge. Those noises are just weird though. Cut it out”.
Even our son, the rocker with the black hair and tattoo, has been increasingly affectionate of late. Working in the wardroom as a civvy steward has given him an ‘access all areas’ pass and he has been privy to find out a lot about his dad and his colleagues’ opinions of him and, the general consensus is, that people like his father. An awful lot.
When articles are written in papers that talk about our teens and wayward boys and troublemakers, it always comes down to the fact that these young men have rarely had a good male role model in their lives. This man may not necessarily love to play football with his son, but he must be decent, he must be a man to whom the lad in question can look up to. This is probably why excellent, male, primary school teachers are so much in demand, because so many boys do not have regular access to a decent bloke who is a part of their lives, day in day out.
Imagine then, Hubby’s dining out. The mess was packed, the food sublime, the wine generous, the staff, family members included, professional. My brother and his wife sat to the left of me, Hubby to my right. After dinner, Hubby cracked a few groan inducing jokes and paid tribute to the leavers. The gavel was struck again and the Captain stood up and what was said next, were the sort of words one never gets to hear as one is usually dead, in a wooden box adjacent to the eulogiser. I could see my son’s eyes well with pride up as though thinking, “That’s my dad, he’s talking about”.
So, chez Band is a very emotional place at the mo, but, like I said and I have been a Navy wife long enough to recognise the stages couples go through before a separation so that, just before he goes, where one would think our lovey-doveyness would reach its zenith, we will row and bicker and bitch at each other, as though repelling the other from oneself – a sort of self-preservation order so that it doesn’t hurt so much on the day. And that is how the next 20 months will be. We will both live for Friday, we’ll be delighted to see each other and then on Sunday afternoon, as I dish up Sunday lunch, I’ll be remote again, not being able to bear his grip being put in the car for yet another week away from us. Hands up how many Navy wives know what I’m talking about?

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