Thursday 9 January 2014

Becoming an Army Wife

But outside of work, life was moving on. Soon after the Suez crisis began, sometime in late summer, the regiment was warned for standby. Should either sickness or welfare problems affect any of the senior N.C.O's - Non-Commisioned-Officers - thus keeping them behind, G. would be called forward as a replacement: selfishly, we kept all fingers and toes tightly crossed - although the possibility of us ever actually getting to either Registry Office or altar was becoming increasingly unlikely.
Then G. was told that shortly, a two-bed, centrally-heated (in 1956!) fully-furnished quarter, in the Tower of London could be ours, provided we were spliced. And  rules were rules. We decided that once again, I should seek permission; or lose the flat. Following several brief, frosty phone calls, Mama and I met up at a London restaurant where, that particular evening, words, as well as food consumption, were limited and after a scant glance at the consent form  and a -'I've no intention of signing that so you may as well put it away. I"11 have you made a Ward of Court first' - we parted. Miserably, I caught the bus and sat alone, on top, quietly grizzling my way through the journey home.
Later, after talking things through we decided to present our case at the Magistrates Court: a difficult and reluctant decision but Mother and I shared the same stubborn streak. How- ever, needing advice, the following morning I rang a family friend - Mother's solicitor - an elegant, urbane Welshman who immediately invited us to his home for supper. There, having first calmly and 'Sorry darling' questioned me at length, he smiled at my 'No, I'm truly not pregnant, not even a teeny bit' before turning to George. Some­where around eleven, we left, feeling grateful and even a little hopeful.
Some two months later, all was resolved - out of court - and with the form signed, we settled for 10am, Monday, 5th November (negating all future cries of 'Sorry I forgot our  wedding anniversary') at St Pancras Town Hall, before going off to celebrate with a Spag. Bol. at the Bamboo Bar, in Goodge St.: renamed, but amazingly,still there. Deciding to keep things simple, my-never-to-be-described-as-frivolous wedding outfit, consisted of a grey suit and gloves, gunmetal stilettos and clutch bag, and a fuschia hat. The friend who'd promised to bring a camera forgot, so we have absolutely no record of the happy event. My battle-weary Mother - complete with equally dazed-looking friend, along with my younger sister, had - against all odds - appeared for our brief ceremony, doubtless wishing they hadn't, as to Mother's horror, the wedding break­fast amounted to six cups of coffee in a nearby ABC Tearooms. Weakly, she'd announced that 'I really could have done with a large brandy' (seldom can the desire for the soothing qualities of alcohol have been exceeded ) so we suggested they share our cab to Paddington and the joys of the station buffet. Once there and suitably fortified, they waved us off to Penzance, where, thanks to G. having signed on for further military service, a gesture which earned him a bounty of £100:00, we were to spend a week's honeymoon.
I was now an army wife.

from SINGING TO THE GOLDFISH by Bev Pettifar

Buy your copy HERE

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