What Happens on the Patch, Stays on the Patch.
This is only because we’re generally living in the middle of nowhere and we can’t get off the blinking patch!
The few times that I do leave, it’s on a hired bus on my way into the nearest town with fellow wives for a well deserved ladies night out, and even then there is always someone with their desperate face squashed up against the rear window frantically performing SOS signals at the sheep in passing fields.
A House is a Home
Being married to Him means that whenever and wherever he is posted we are allocated quarters on what is called the Married Patch. A little village of identical houses based around or near the station, their only difference being their size according to rank. Everything else is Exactly. The. Same. Our interior walls are always magnolia and the carpets in every house range from Bread Crust Beige (if you are this lucky, buy a lottery ticket) to Doctors Waiting Room Cobalt or Winter Nipple Blush.
Our windows are all adorned with either a taupe/ olive/ burgundy stripe, a golden peach velour or an autumnal floral scene. In 1963 there was a sale on at Fabrics for India. The MOD received a loyalty card.
Most postings are between two to three years, more than enough time to paint walls, hang your own curtains and let your dog moult.
Ours have never been longer than eight months. We don’t paint walls anymore. We buy decals. They peel off after two weeks. It works out for everyone involved.
Where There is a Patch, There is a Catch.
Moving on to a new patch is like browsing Trip Advisor. Within hours of waving off the removal men, you’ll get the low down on the weather patterns, wine prices, petrol stations, leisure centres, great family restaurants, the best dentist, the closest bus stops, the most grown up bars for date nights (eh?!) who lives where, who has kids of a similar age to yours. The best dog walking paths, which locals like us, which don’t, who offers military discount, the closest garden centres, who’s been deployed, where the football ground is, when the next families happy hour is, the list is endless.
It’s alright for Him. We move somewhere new, He’ll generally already know a few people in the office.
A slap on the back, a pint of beer and a, “See you Monday, mate.” and they’re in the circle.
You know he must know someone before he goes in for his first day, when his golf clubs, squash racquet and soccer boots all magically appear in the front hall the night before. The most awkward his day is going to get is using the wrong coffee mug.
We, as ‘The Partner’, on the other hand, have typically been moved yet another 100 miles further away from family, friends, routine, familiarity and comfort. We need to start at the very beginning. Every time. The most awkward my first day is going to get is watching Dog do a poo on the CO’s front lawn, as Baby makes a head on run for oncoming traffic.
You’ll be politely welcomed and circled warily a few times, but once you fail at making muffins and excel in bringing wine, you are ‘in’. Within days you’ll be discussing birth stories and bikini waxes.
The wonderful thing about living on ‘The Patch’ is that there is always someone that is free for a natter or to have glass of wine. There is always someone who feels like going for a walk or whose kids want to tire out your kids. Someone has always just baked a banana loaf. There is some one that will babysit when there is an emergency or a date night (which in most cases is classed as an emergency) There will always be someone that will happily pet sit for you or give you a lift into town. There is always someone who will listen to you rant, whine and complain or lend you their hoover. Some one has coped with deployment before you to guide you though the ups and downs – the ups being single person/ king size bed, the downs being, “who the flip knows whats for dinner tonight, I am sick of being the only adult here!” There will always be someone to encourage, advise, soothe or placate you.
Most military wives will have had a profession or continue to have a profession, so on your street you’ll always have a midwife, a marketing guru and an accountant. Or an artist, a chef and teacher. And me. I bring wine.
Some one will always have self raising flour. Me, again. It’s unopened, don’t worry about bringing it back. I don’t even know why I bought it.
There will always be someone who knows you well enough to walk over and give you a very necessary hug and tell you you are doing a great job.
It is intense though. As much as these women are your partners, your mothers, your confidantes, your sisters, your best friends and they know more about your sex life than He does! Sometimes I just don’t feel like babysitting the children over the road, or listening to next door moan about her husbands deployment. Again. For the eighth time that week. It’s Tuesday. Sometimes there’s no one that will understand why I am like I am. “Quirky.” Apparently. Better than, “Tipsy.” I suppose.
Sometimes I don’t want to have a cup of tea with ‘her from the next street along’ not only because I don’t drink tea, but she only eats Quinoa and does sit-ups whilst learning the Karma Sutra. Sometimes I’ll catch myself saying something and cringe in case I have offended someone. A given.
On any patch, on any street there will be a menagerie of ages, cultures, religions and ranks. There are some eggshells that you can’t even tiptoe over. We all live, work and play together 24/7, unlike in civilian life where you can leave your colleagues in one part of the city, mooch home to your family just outside of the city and then head out with your mates to socialise in another town. It takes a special breed of person to be laid back enough to go with the flow, but strong enough to know when to step back and politely, but firmly close the front door, pour a glass of wine and watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for a bit until He gets home. Unless it’s a repeat at 11am, not even I can condone wine before lunch. A Bellini perhaps, but not wine!
When postings are up, you all hug each other, thank everyone for making yet another part of your adventure as magical as ever, reminisce over the time you all had too much to drink that Saturday night and all began miaowing at your taxi driver, adamant that none of you spoke any actual English. Brave squeezes and promises of reunions, BBQ’s and email addresses.
And within twenty four hours you are on a new patch watching the removal men drive off as eight women begin charging up your garden path with thrush ointment and burnt tray bake.
Until next time
When living on a patch (military or civilian) remember the following, always:
“ There is a story behind every person, there is a reason why they are the way they are. Think about that before you judge someone.”