General Accident or Major Disaster?
'Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Hitler?'
Rebellion in the Ranks
I’ve never been one for taking orders, being the ultimate rebel and I realised far too late that I should never have married a military man who thinks and acts with military precision and logic in every area of his life. Family life has thus turned out to be a military exercise and he views me as the perpetual saboteur to his strategies.
Perpetually on Parade
He was once a Major in the Territorial Army - not the regular army and of course if I dare to mention ‘Dads’ Army’ or say he wasn’t even a proper soldier he'll go ballistic. It causes me no end of amusement and that's my way of exacting revenge.
An insurance rep once phoned and asked me to fill in a telephone survey. ‘Would you like a quote from General Accident?’
‘No thanks very much,’ I replied. ‘I’m already with Major Disaster.’
My entire marriage to Major Disaster is a pitched battle and I see no decisive victory in sight. I just wanted a quiet life - not to be barked at continually as if I’m on parade. Over the years, I’ve tried to point out my displeasure by resorting to extreme tactics like doing the goose-step along with a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute but all to no avail. I've responded to orders with such phrases as ‘Javol, Herr Ubergrupenmiester,’ but he just doesn’t get the message. The kids have also been known to join in the fun by humming the tune to: ‘Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles'.
Mornings are horrendous. Forget the alarm clock - it's roll call at the crack of dawn; we're all virtually dynamited out of bed with Major Disaster shouting up the stairs at the top of his voice while we're still asleep. We could all perform an ’Et tu brute?’ on him for that alone.
Even a trip to the supermarket is a military exercise:
'Tesco's car park is full; we'll have to abort the mission and go to Sainsbury's instead!' Then it's ‘Bail out of the car you horrible lot! Have you all synchronised your watches? E.T.A. five minutes - rendezvous at the bank. Flash to bang time - thirty minutes!’
Items like sugar, tinned potatoes, beans and dry biscuits are piled into the trolley in vast quantities as if there's going to be a siege; we will have stockpiled enough rations to survive a Russian winter but there's hardly any room left in the trolley for anything fresh or wholesome to make a decent meal out of.
Decorating the house is militarised too; manoeuvres are as follows:
‘We’ll attack the ceilings first - then our next target will be the hallway.’
I’ll mimic him in my well-practised Winston Churchill voice; ’We shall fight them on the beaches...’
The fact that Major Disaster is also a school teacher exacerbates things even further. Along with the usual orders, there are a whole lot of other 'dos and don'ts' thrown in:
‘Sit down!’ ‘Be quiet!’ ‘Pay attention!’ ‘Stop wandering off when I’m talking to you!’
I feel as if I'm back at school, at an army training camp or a mixture of both.
Trips to the coast with extended family are even worse. When we use two vehicles they must always travel in convoy and woe betides anyone who doesn’t consult the ordinance survey map before visiting somewhere new on foot. Major Disaster says we mustn’t all walk there together; one of us has to conduct a reconnaissance trip first. It seems I've got myself lumbered with an absolute dud
Verbal bombardments assault me and my family every single day and it’s always on a: ‘shoot first - ask questions later' basis - there’s little point uttering a word until all orders have been clearly given and carried out but I’m not short of an arsenal of verbal ammunition myself given the chance to launch a counter-attack.
Major Disaster was in his element when a house we own was under threat of flooding. He was on hand with sandbags even though they weren't much use with fifty million gallons about to spill through the front door from a nearby river.
Needless to say, his defences were breached and the whole of the ground floor was inundated.
And this one beats the lot: Major Disaster once told me he was off on military exercises to an undisclosed desert location and even had me pack some salt tablets in his case to prevent dehydration. I was momentarily quite proud of him that he was doing his duty for Queen and country. It was true there was plenty of sand where he was going but any manoeuvres weren’t going to be the least bit military as I was to discover at a later date - he had booked a week’s holiday in the Canary Islands with another woman.
Maybe it’s partially my fault; I should have stayed in my hometown of Plymouth and married a sailor - a naval man might have behaved more admirably. With a lovable ‘Captain Pugwash’ type maybe things would have been plain sailing and at very least I would have understood the nautical terminology. I think the only thing preventing me from mounting a full military coup against Major Disaster has been my sense of humour - but never mind, if I can't give him his marching orders perhaps I’ll be free one day when he meets his Waterloo and I promise to give him a decent send-off – with full military honours of course.
© 2015 Stella Kaye