Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ole Red Eyes.

He’d sung the first verse in the car that had driven us home. The driver diplomatically kept his silence. In fact as he helped me get Hubby out of the car, instead said, “I shall miss you Sir. It’s been a privilege.” Hubby shook his hand firmly before I led him up the steps of our house and in through a dark and quiet house up the stairs to our bedroom.
Pussy Galore, I am convinced, had nowhere near as much trouble undressing James Bond as I did my husband in a very similar rig because, as Hubby lay flat on his back on our bed warbling the second verse -
“I've lived a life that's full
I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way”
– I stood at the foot of said bed, still in a long frock, still in my high heels, heaving off his shiny, black patent dress shoes, arguing crossly with him.
“No darling”, I muttered, “You have all the highways yet to travel”.
“Very profound Alice love, very profound”, he added, helpfully lifting his bottom off the bed so that I could pull his trousers down.
“No. I was just stating a fact – you will be very familiar with the route to your new job. M5, A30, A303…” and I yanked his trouser legs down his long legs.
“Bloody Nora, you are going to regret that last snifter tomorrow morning”, I snarled. Unfortunately, my remonstration only reminded him of verse three which he sung with gusto -
“Regrets? I've had a few
But then again too few to mention”.
“Be bloody quiet”, I hissed, “and sit up a minute”. He did as I instructed helping me remove his dinner jacket and undo his bow tie but he slapped my hand away as I fumbled with the top button of his dress shirt.
“Are you trying to garrotte me Alice?”, he asked, hurt. I didn’t dare reply. He wrestled away with the infernal button for another minute or two, after which, with some success, he lay down on his pillow again, leaving me to attempt to pull his shirt off. I was doing a jolly good job until it came to his wrists when the stupid cufflinks stymied my efforts. Hubby was by now rolled onto his side, the sleeves of his shirt joining his hands together behind his back as if he were handcuffed and under arrest.
“Oh for heaven’s sake!”, I declared, more than happy to leave him in that position all night if push came to shove, as quite literally, it had. The Tiffany cuff links which I had bought him on 5th Avenue all those years ago when we lived in America, were buried in the deep, by now inside-out cuffs and no amount of pushing and shoving were helping my labours.
“For God’s sake!”, I now shouted at him, “Don’t just bloody lie there, help me to help you.” After much struggling and wriggling, one hand broke free of the cloth apprehending his freedom and with one foul swoop he dragged the other sleeve off with his free hand.
“Ta-da!”, Hubby exclaimed.
“Ta-da indeed”, I replied imperiously, “Honestly, had you planned to get bat faced tonight?”
Hubby rolled over, looked me in the eyes, took my hands in his and said,
“Alice, I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way”.
It took me a moment or two to realise that the words he was saying were the unsung lyrics of the bloody song he’d been singing since we’d left the party. I too fell back on my pillow. I’d run out of energy. All the parties, all the final speeches, all the gift giving, all the concerts and lunches and dinners that in this, his final week at work had been dedicated to him, had taken its toll. There was no denying it any more, I was an emotional wreck. I don’t want him to go. I don’t want to say goodbye to all the lovely people he has worked with for the past two and a half years: the captain, his wife, his PA, his colleagues, the wardroom hall porters, the chaplaincy, the training officers, the medical staff, the stewards, the chefs. I don’t want to be a single mother all week and deal with the daily traumas of bringing up five children. One of us needs to mop up the kitchen whilst the other mops up the problems of one or other of our fast growing family, problems which are of such disproportionate concern to them that one understands completely why the phrase, ‘teenage angst’ was coined. Basically one of us needs to solve domestic crises whilst the other cracks on with the domestic chores.
Hubby, lying on top of our duvet, in little more than a pair of little pants, our son’s surely, and a pair of stripy socks, looked oddly vulnerable. He held my hand and, as we both stared up at the ceiling, he sang again, quietly, with a certain sobriety:

“Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way”.
Tears dripped down the creases of my eyes and onto my pillow. Hubby wiped my face.
“I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside…”.
But Hubby choked on the final few words. He couldn’t articulate that he ‘found it all so amusing’. Not even the image of him in his undies and me in my long frock, lying on our bed, crooning the ultimate swan song, could detract from the fact that, ultimately Frank Sinatra was talking a load of bollocks.


DL said...

Hi AB,

Just checked in to your blog after a woefully long absence. Now read up to date. Quite some change at your end it seems; business as usual here. Delighted to see the blog's still on top form. Keep smiling!


rental mobil jakarta said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Clean Knickers Full Tummy said...

Good luck Hubby!!

Alice Arndell said...

Hi Alice.
from one naval wife to another I can't tell you how much I enjoy your blog. So much so that I have nominated you for an award - Note you;re the only non-cooking/baking blog I chose!! Check it out here: Hopefully it'll gain you a few new readers from New Zealand xAlice