Living with My Veteran in Civvy Street

Hubby of mine is a Veteran. A former Sergeant Major in the 22nd Cheshire Regiment. He still retains so many of his army ethics and like many families of ex-squaddies I’m sure, his ethics drive me and the kids bloody crackers!

The kids and I have happily maintained a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-yer-pants’ approach for years; until my man came along. These days though, our blank-faced responses to questions starting with “Where?” and shrug shoulders replies to “What?” and in particular, the “Meh, whatever” disinterest and general “umm…” attitudes have proved to be a source of massive annoyance to Mr Regimented, Orderly, Fold Stuff Neatly, Read the Instruction Manual, Knows How to Read a Map, Sergeant Major Man.

Hubby believes he can train us up. We believe he will give up and chill out eventually!  Don’t tell him but, as he sits outside in the car, revving the engine to indicate that ‘on time’ was 10 minutes ago, we plod leisurely round the house, gathering the last bits of essentials, amused that he thinks the pressure tactic will work in any way, shape or form. Truth is, if he rushes us then we forget important things and then he flips out when we have to do a U-turn 20 minutes later for things like shoes, coats, purses, a child (only forgot him once)… etc.

Whilst on the car subject. Parking. Why does a squaddie drive round the car park / street/ cul’d’sac passing a number of spaces, in order to ensure the car is facing the ‘right’ direction at leaving time? Me – I see a space, I park in it. Done.

While I’m on a roll, its worth me taking the chance to beef about scenery. Just for once, it would be nice if I could sit with a view of the room when on a date. I know, I’ve heard all about it that a squaddie will always sit where he can see the exits and full view of his/her surroundings but I mean, come on, there are only so many walls a girl can stand to look at. Me thinks its still a ploy so that he can eye up the ladies without risking a rollocking! hhmmm…And adding to this, it would be nice to get home from said dates without him having a full on egg banjo orgy.

Now, my fella left the army nearly 20 years ago (yes, we have a bit of an age gap) but surely by now he would be past the Meerkat phase? Every single noise makes him bolt upright and stand to attention like a Meerkat in the terrain, listening to see if its friend or foe; usually its nothing more than the dishwasher changing cycle. It’s amazing how he can hear a pin drop and with lightening reflexes take on full Rambo-face shoot to kill expression but he cant hear bum all I say to him when I get home from work

Hoping for sympathy from fellow Veteran’s wives at the annual Chester Races event is non-existent.  Yes, I’m 20 years younger than my man but the quiet acceptance of the wives proves me to be 20 years naïve too.  As I listen to the fascinating stories of these men’s years in Belize, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and further, it reminds me that Hubby’s pedantic, get on your nerves regulations are not simply him trying to ‘fix us’, nor is he out of touch with ‘Civvie chillaxing’. The training is ingrained in him and his comrades. This mentality of Preparation, Perception and Order is what kept him and his fellow soldiers alive!

I will never know the horrors that these men and women have known. I am thankful that these service men and women have risked so much and worked so hard; my children and I wouldn’t have the luxury of “meh” without their sacrifices, and so it is with this in mind and the words Thorough Planning and Preparation Prevent a Piss Poor Performance touretting in my brain, I went to Chester Military Museum to buy him the 22nd Regiment sweatshirt that he has been wanting – in preparation for his Christmas present.  Well done me 🙂

Although the regiment is no longer, having been amalgamated into One Mercian regiment, the pride and respect for this regiment stands proud.  Acknowledgement for the 22nd’s Commander in Chief Prince Charles resolutely displayed.

On the drive home, I thought about how the kids and I rejoiced at the subtle changes in Hubby’s behaviours recently. No freaking out about a lack of tent poles during a camping holiday, ironing pilling high without causing heart failure, cars looking like kiddie battlefields and gardens overgrown.  These no longer seemed like victories in our favour!

As much as I feign irritation at the horrified look on his face, each time I reach into the wardrobe and rob one of his precision ironed t-shirts from his folded, stacked so neatly you could balance a perfectly measured spirit-level on them pile, I’d be gutted to have to go back to ironing my own clothes myself! In all seriousness though, my man is who he is because of the Army. The life he lived before us is one to be proud of!  If he did finally do as we hoped and just “chill out dude” then he would be a completely different man; and that would be our loss!

I love the man he is now, squaddie humour and all, and more importantly, as my daughter pointed out the other day, “we are never late for school anymore and we always know where are shoes are now”.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. darryl hall says:

    well said well writen,I way the royal anglian reg,i have some of the same quirkes as your other half has had a lot a put up with,flinch with noises and bangs,always folding clothes towls,she got me through a break down,night mares,screams,crying,tempers,but she stay there beside me all the time,she never strayed,never ran a way,all ways by my side..


  2. PETE WABY says:

    We are who we are, because we are what they made us. Known Steve since 70's in A Coy and he was always a smart bloke.

    Banjo's are a favourite from Northern Ireland, and boy did we love em. Think this, after hours tromping the streets and you are due back, you get told to provide a corden because something has gone off. So you are out there for Lord knows how long, when you should be sleeping, as you are due to be out a sparrow Farht on a search.

    You finally get in starving, bosting for a crap and a brew, you have to prioritise. So you get the banjo's on, nom, nom, nom, whilst slurping a brew that you could stand ya spoon in and having a crap is the last thought on ya mind.

    As for the alert factor, it is one thing that kept us alive. I too have that problem and always watch the doors. Also, I too do the ironing and other domestic chores, be thankful you have a person willing to do it for you. If he should get you making bed blocks though then he has lost it.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Nice one Lyndsey, can relate to the present and future. Also brought back some memories!!!

    Got a few expletives and abbreviations below for your man to pull up a sandbag and chew over.

    Ask your man if he dislikes the following words in the same sentence:

    “432 and packlift” or “Xmas day and Duty” or “To your targets in front rapid fire and stoppage”.

    Also 24 hrs in the life of a squadie (most of us have been there)

    After tea, shower, book out at the guard room, taxi to the nearest watering hole. A few warmers into the bank followed by a few more then ease springs quite a few times and as the evening gets later in into the early morning during ease springs you might even miss the urinal. More sherbets (by now far too many) fall out of watering hole onto pavement. Wave at taxi driver, grunt and point with unsteady finger the direction you think you want to go. Taxi driver knows the route as he has seen you countless nights before. Taxi arrives just short of camp gates (well briefed). Fall out of taxi, Taxi driver extracts 50ds (if serving in Germany or 20 quid if in the UK) from the wallet. Crawl past guard room hoping your opo has booked you in. Internal compass leads to your pit or scratcher (depending on how posh you are, mind you it’s usually someone else’s bunk that has been occupied by some other swamp rat – you know what I mean!) awoken by NCO (reveille) 2 hrs later followed by BFT, puke yur ring up. Shower, breakfast followed by first parade (always smart as a carrot). Down the armoury, remove the top cover, dry and re-oil working parts and gas plug (who am I, SMG, LMG, SLR or GPMG?). NAFFI break, “ORDERS” to discuss and plan the evening events – “SITUATION NO CHANGE” spend the rest of the day avoiding the CSM. Then it starts again … good drills, priceless.

    A Day on Exercise (we’ve all been there)

    Stand too at 4am, bright moonlit sky with a coating of sparkling white frost on all and the country side around. Can’t get out of the doss bag cause the zips frozen.

    Making a mug of tea with a No1 petrol burner. Using tea bags the size of pillows cases cause you’ve only got a 10 man rat pack.

    Making egg banjos (there you Lynds) with white bread covered in dirty fingerprints (adds to the taste) thinking what to with the dextrose tablets and cheese possessed. Trying to eat a packet of AB biscuits without the aid of fluid (Imposable).

    Passing to the top of vehicles rolled up soaking wet cam nets mixed with OMD80 and AL39. Can you feel the cold greasy liquid running down extended arms surrounded by woolly shirt KF, jumper heavy wool and combat Jkt DPM.

    Standing, dripping wet or bitter cold (sometimes both) in battle trenches for hours on end looking out onto the county side waiting for nothing to happen. DMS boots with putties and plastic socks didn’t help – what’s that all about!!

    Deprived of sleep and food, yomping miles to the point where exhaustion consumes you, but still carry on. That said the Bedford is just round the corner??

    Waiting for Endex to be called so as the drills in the evening can be re-executed, as for the “24 hrs in the life of a squadie” as above.

    We’ve all been there and would do it again in a heart beat!!

    Your man will know my cap badge by using phrases such as “plank” and “drop short” mixed with other choice words. Even so we’re all the same blood.

    Lyndsey, as you already know even with your mans imperfections coupled with his military OCD, he is quite simply quality and will always protect you and yours

    All being said veterans regardless of cap badge, individual unit pride and distance will come together and meet again when we fall in at the final RV in the sky. And as always without fail, 5 minutes before parade. Its who we are “The British Army”


  4. Hello Anon. Fantastic comment thank you. Hubby sent you a personal message. Here's the link to it for you. Best wishes


  5. Thanks Wabs. Steve was nodding along as he read your comment. I'm learning more every day x


  6. Thanks for your comment Darryl. I'm sorry to hear that you have been through a tough time, but its good to know that you have a wonderful lady with you; all the best to you both x


  7. M Jones says:

    Bloody hell, you could be talking through my other halfs mouth lol, I think all serving and veterans have the same philosophy and outlook. He will always have your back no matter what.


  8. Anonymous says:

    After our chat, i decided to look this article up. Its bloody good. However, being pernickety by nature (yes, im afflicted too)….its PROPER planning and preparation……..the 7 P's. Right,im off to shave the lawn. 🙂 Kev


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.