*Guest post* Homecoming from the other side.

After a lot of nagging and emailing and threatening to withhold parcels, Popeye has written a blog post!

It’s a subject that I have always been very curious (nosey) about. What is homecoming like for the sailor actually on the gert big honking warship? 

Here at Oyl HQ, that is exactly the kind of burning question we like to answer, so without any further ado, here’s Popeye, giving it a sailors POV:

*pause for drumroll*


I have been asked by my lovely wife olive to write a guest blog post for all of you lovely readers describing homecoming from the other side of the dockside! 

Now my literary prowess is somewhat lacking when it comes to this sort of thing, however I shall endeavour to paint you a “word picture”, here we go…

So, the night before homecoming, affectionately known as channel night, in a bygone era, was an evening (and most part of the morning) celebrating and getting so drunk you can barely stand up.

Nowadays it’s a far more conservative affair, possibly with a few drinks and then early to bed to make the next day come quicker, a bit like Christmas when you were 5 years old. 

Don’t get me wrong there are still some sailors that drink until they shit themselves, but they are few and far between. 

The trouble with this is (and I have witnessed it first hand) the next day you are so hungover you are unable to actually enjoy your homecoming. You are in such a state that you would rather go back to bed than see your family. Or you would rather speak to God on the porcelain telephone than hug your mum.


When I was asked to write this, I got to thinking, these peoples families have travelled for god knows how long to come and see their sailor, who they have missed and worried about and sent parcels and letters to. They stand there all excited, and what they are greeted with is an absolute hungover mess. 

This is a bit of an anticlimax I expect.

That’s why I fall into the 5 year old at Christmas category!

So the morning of the homecoming is here. Normally, you are woken from your lovely sleep by a whistle over the ships broadcast. 

However on homecoming day they wake you up with Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ or Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Homeward Bound’ then it’s a fairly straightforward routine. Get up, shower, brush teeth put on number 1’s.

Realise that number 1’s do not fit, panic, realise you are trying to put on someone else’s, find your own, put them on and marvel at how much weight you have lost.

 Have breakfast, unless you are morning watch chef, in which case you will be cooking breakfast.

After all this it sort of sinks in that you will be seeing your loved ones again after however many moths and you start to get a bit excited.

Everyone is buzzing, people you have never spoken to in 6 to 9 months suddenly become ‘alright’ and you can talk to them, you have common ground. All anyone wants to do is just get home! 

Then there is a sort of time in purgatory. You aren’t going to work that morning but they have yet to muster you for procedure Alpha (that’s where we all stand on the upper deck) so you bimble about drinking tea and trying not to spill it down yourself. 

You pointlessly check your e mails. You think about phoning your family, and then think better of it because it might dilute the joy of homecoming! 

Then they finally muster you for procedure Alpha. Now you would have thought getting a bunch of people to stand along the side of a ship is a pretty easy thing to organise. You would be wrong. You have to be placed in order of height and then marched down the side of the ship and told where to stand. I know it doesn’t sound like much but this can take anywhere up to an hour to sort out! So you stand in your spot looking out at Portsmouth/ Plymouth or wherever you happen to be coming in to and it is cold. It is so fucking cold! Number 1’s are not renowned for their thermal retention properties. All you are thinking is hurry the fuck up because I am fucking freezing! 

So you start to enter your port of choice, lots of people waving from the beach and stuff, obviously you can’t wave back because it’s not very military! Oh and as soon as you start to enter your port of choice it for some reason becomes really windy, so with wind chill it’s about -50 degrees Celsius.

 You start to shiver and your lips turn blue. Your feet hurt because not only are they cold but you have squeezed them into a pair of pussers’ shoes that you have only worn twice and they are extremely uncomfortable!

 Then you see a huge throng of people with banners all shouting and cheering.

Then you allow yourself to be very excited, now in the normal running of things you are not allowed to move or wave back until the first rope has gone from the ship to the dockside. 

So you frantically scan the crowd looking for your family, it’s sort of a silent competition, spot them before they spot you. We do have an advantage in this game by being all dressed the same. Olive described it as the hardest game of ‘Where’s Wally’ ever. 

You finally spot them and for me, the first thing I think is “Thank god she’s turned up and not run away with some bloke she met in her yoga class called Fabian who pronounces Barcelona with a ‘th'”she is waving at me. I can’t wave back. She stops waving and gives me the look of “why aren’t you waving back?” (#sadface) then another look of “oh god have I just been waving at a complete stranger?!?!” You try to telepathically communicate that “you are waving at the right person but I cant wave back, look no one else is waving back!” 

Then the first rope goes across and you are allowed to wave but by that time you’re arms and legs do not want to move. Your muscles are all stiff and cold but you make the effort and give them a wave. 

I have always found this fairly awkward. You are waving and stuff but you can’t get off the ship until the gangway is down. So what is the waving etiquette? When do you stop?

Obviously I can’t stand there waving like an idiot for half an hour. 

So you stop waving and try to mouth things to your loved ones but because they are to far away to hear you. They have no idea what you are saying. You try to find someone to talk to so as not to look stupid but at the same time keep one eye on the family in case they move! It’s all very complicated! Then the gangway goes down and wait for the captain’s family to come on and then you have to wait for the bloke who won the ships raffle to be first off the gangway. 

You are finally allowed down the gangway. You move through the crowd like a ninja, not brushing against anyone and twisting this way and that, then you see them and suddenly everything is alright again. 

You forget your hypothermia and broken feet and have the best hug ever, then a kiss, and then you become a bit nervous and wonder what to say. 

I always say the same thing ‘alright?’ with that word I reassure them that I am the same person I was when I left. Then the answer I get is ‘Yeah, you?’ and with that I know they are the same person they were when I left and everything is going to be alright. 

Now imagine trying to

do all that with a raging hangover…
“Muchos  Love”

Popeye 


         

Jill speak

Hey there lovelies, got an idea for you.

How’d you like the put some zing back in your relationship? Become that mysterious lady (or lad) of intrigue and whimsy once more? You would? Well then I have a little game for you! 

 Jill Speak!

Does your Popeye speak to work colleagues in another language? Does he respond to a name that is not his own? Do you sometimes have no idea what on earth he’s on about?

If the answer to any of these is “yes” then Jill Speak is just the game for you! And the great part is that the whole family can get involved too!

   
To play Jill Speak casually start using some of your Popeyes top-secret-navy-life-sailor-code-words into everyday conversation! Then sit back and enjoy the shock, confusion and then (hopefully) amusement on his face. 

I play it with my Popeye all the time and to be honest it annoys him. But who cares when playing it (and the look on his face!) is so much fun. 

P.s another great feature of Jill Speak is that you can modify it for whatever service your partner is in! For example, for my RM readers- don’t walk the dog- say you’re taking the dog on a dog yomp! 

Here are some examples/ideas: 

When asking him if he’s home next weekend- “have you got weekenders?” 

On bin day- “can you take out the gash bag please darling?”

At bedtime- “right I’m off to my pit, nighty night!”

When discussing the shopping list or at mealtimes- “what scran should I get in my love?”

Instead of reading a bedtime story, get your kids to ask their sailor for a “bedtime dit please”. 

When out and about and in need of caffeine, tell your service person to “get the wets in”.

When your sprog does something particularly well, like gets 10/10 on their spellings, make sure to tell them it was “BZ” within earshot of your sailor. 

And finally if he is in need of a compliment, or you’re hoping to get your groove on simply sidle up to him, stare into his eyes lovingly and tell him “hey their gorgeous, looking turbo divs tonight” and watch him glow with amor (or be completely gobsmacked).

  
Another twist on Jill Speak if you truly want to create that Navy Ship feel at home (Kirsty Allsop eat you heart out) is to start calling all family members and friends by a different name!

Base their new Navy Nickname on something they did years ago that no one really remembers, a physical characteristic or (very very) loosely connected to their existing name. So if you have a Great Aunty Audrey she could now and forever be referred to as “Hepburn”, “Hep” or “Burnsy”. 

Remember the more embarrassing the story that inspired the name or the more random and difficult to figure out, the better. For real authenticity dont explain the new name to anyone. Ever.

  
If your Popeye is deployed then you can still play Jill Speak! You can easily sneak phrases into emails or when chatting on the phone. The stunned silence and (usually) string of baffled expletives that follow are well worth the phone card minutes.  It also pretty much guarantees a speedy email reply (unless comms are down of course) along the lines of “how do you know that word? I don’t like you using Jackspeak. You’ve freaked me out Olive!” Good times. 

However you decide to play Jill Speak have fun. Get creative and get the whole family onboard! See how many you can think of and shoehorn into everyday chit chats with your Popeye. 

Do let me know how you get on. 

Lots of love,

Olive X 

Bedtime leave revolution 

You wait weeks, months sometimes for them to come home.

You swap emails and have long (but never long enough) phone calls musing about what you will do when you are reunited.

He says things like “I miss you so much, I can’t wait to see you, to hold you, to kiss you.”

Aww.

Why is it then that after about five flipping seconds back at home out comes the Xbox or PlayStation from the BBKB and you don’t see beloved Popeye again for hours.

  

Once more you are going to bed by yourself. Ears ringing with empty promises of “I’ll be up in a minute babe, just let me finish this level/check out this vault/this round”. 

You know it’s not true and that they will creep up to bed at 4am and fall asleep with their mouth wide open and snore all night until a well aimed elbow stops them.

But still, optimistically, you peck them on the cheek and climb the stairs to your cold bed. 

It’s either that they are lying or that they have forgotten how much they missed you.

Or they literally lose all sense of time and place as soon that bloody loading screen lights up.

To be honest it takes the piss a bit. 

I’m declaring we all do the same and start playing Spyro the Dragon or The Sims with slack jaws, one hand down our pants and a packet of share size crisps open on the coffee table. 

All. Night. Long.

Who’s with me?!?! 

  

The run ashore

So it’s happening again. A run ashore is imminent.  My response to this varies wildly, so much so Popeye is now pretty cautious about how he tells me. My response SEEMS to depend on whether or not I’m on maternity leave and hormonal  or have work the next day or not. There may be other factors at play here. 

Basically I’m jealous of him and how free he can be. My life is tied down and full of adult responsibility. I have to be (vaguely) sensible. I have to be organised.  His life, when he’s onboard, hasn’t really changed (outside of his job role), since he was 16. 

  

If you have no kids and can go out and party hard yourself at the drop of a hat then good for you (teeny bit jealous here btw) . DO IT. Do it for ME if nothing else.

Forget all about how much fun they are having, who they are with, what super dooper clubs they are in, what exciting shinnanigans they are having and enjoy yourself

However. If you cant get rat arsed on a Tuesday or Thursday from lunchtime onwards, because of silly, unimportant, things, like:

  • Have to go to work the next day.
  • You are woken up by small people screaming at you for boobs or porridge at the crack of fecking dawn every day of your life. Forever.
  • You (shockingly) haven’t got stupid amounts of free money wanging around to spend on booze and taxis and casinos and more booze.
  • You actually want to sit in, curled up with a bottle of wine  cup of tea and bag of malteasers and watch new The Walking Dead, Stella or Modern Family or some new box set.
  • Inviting your bestie round for a bitch and gossip  catch up sounds like a much more appealing evening than having punctured ear drums and freshers spilling apple sours on you. 

DONT feel bad. You are not alone. Most of the Navy and Military Wife/Partner population will be feeling the same, whilst skimming through sky+ and checking their phone. 

Its NORMAL to feel jealous. They don’t have the same responsibilities as we do. To be there for our kids night and day 24/7. To go to work not smelling of sambouca and shame. To budget so we don’t, as a family, starve.

We have the luxury of a comfortable house around us, entertaining TV or company for good nights in. They don’t. They have honking pits, and are thrown together with others that, some of the time, are a bunch of pricks. 

When Popeye is deployed and goes on a Run Ashore I try to empathise. And when I thought about it I realised holy crap of I was in the Navy I’d be out having a drink (or ten) too! After being stuck in that metal box for, possibly weeks, working all hours God sends and thinking about home and missing us and seeing our faces smiling down from above his bed whilst he plays the same Xbox game for a few hours of free time. 

  

Shit man, I’d probably be drinking like a fish and dancing on tables in denial by the end of the night. It’s a form of escapism, denial and group consensus we’ve escaped in our normal lives. 

So next time your Popeye lets slip he’s going out for a “quiet few” (obviously code for getting plastered and tattooed and ending up stealing a large decorative fish) try to quiet the inner jealous, wine deprived, pub deprived, eye shadow deprived, grown up conversation deprived, she wolf. 

He’s going out either way so you might as well focus on all the good things youve got around you that he hasnt. 

Bottom line is he would do anything to be sitting there next to you nicking that last malteaser rather than replaying the same night out over and over again for years.

Muchos love 

Olive

X

P.s this does not mean you can’t remind him of all his nights out when he’s home so you can have a girls night out, complete with blackjack, vodka, possibly karaoke and all the glory of the “Mummy Lie In”. Life’s funny that way.

Back OFF-I’m a military WAG, not single!

For the vast majority of a deployment you are of course pretty much on your own. On your todd. Uno. Table for one. Just little old Olive trying to get by. 

But of course, that’s not really true is it? You are taken. You are wanted by a man. Hell- hes so bowled over by you that he’s terrified you won’t be there when he gets back and so sends you more romantic stuff in six months than most other girlfriends or wives get in five years. In short it’s tough but he’s worth it!

And if you’re anything like me, you want to scream it from the roof tops.

IM NOT SINGLE! For the love of God stop giving me that “poor dear- she’ll probably end up a spinster” kind of look! Im in LOVE ok? And it’s not even unrequited! It’s very much requited! (Side note- is that a word?)

I think it when I get a sympathetic nod from the checkout lady at tesco, when I’m buying my ready meal for one, tub of Ben and Jerrys and bottle of wine (standard).

  

I think it when I go out (I should say when I used to go out-now I’m all mamma’d up a late night is being out past 7pm and fills me with irrational anxiety) – and people either chat you up or say I don’t have to pay for rounds because, you know it’s not fair because I’m alone.

Or when blokes say “what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him”. Well actually dick cheese it would hurt him. And me. And us. And no slimeball guy in a bar who talks to me like that is ever going to compete with Popeye. So run along little Weasel and try it with a women made of weaker stuff. Quickly before I punch you. 

I want to say it when I see other Mums and Dads at the park or wherever and see the Dads not even interacting with their kids- “do you know  how freakin lucky you are to have that time?! And you’re just pissing it away! If Popeye was here he would be showing you up mate.” 

So I have come up with a few ideas. I may even dragons den one. Deb Meaden would be onside I’m sure.

Ok, how about a “I’m not single I’m neck deep in deployment shit you couldnt handle” neon flashing badge? One that’s invisible until you get *the look* then you fire that baby up? Ka-POW!

Or…how about a speaker hidden discreetly in a bra that shouts loudly “phone call from YOUR HUSBAND incoming, I repeat YOUR HUSBAND is phoning you –now!!!”. This would also be useful for a phone ninja who is in a noisey place or who can’t hear very well. 

Ooh ok, how’s about this- some kind of hat with a flag on the top that you can flip up that simply says “TAKEN- back off loser!” 

I’m not completely against all that “my hearts out at sea”, or “My sailor, my hero” stuff but it’s not really my cup of tea. See this post to see my POV on that. 

Sometimes you need to be heard a little more clearly, with a little less soppiness, and a lot less fashion sense. 

Muchos love x

Leave lists 

They’ve only just got in the door, you’ve stuck the kettle on and already your mind is whirring. 

Like a lioness about to pounce on an innocent grazing (nautical themed) gazelle you judge whether it’s time to strike. 

  

On the outside you’re gazing doe eyed at your sailor as they sip their tea. On the inside you are crouched, coiled with tension, waiting and watching.

They lean back with goofy, satisfied smile. 
“Ahh, that’s better, it’s so good to be home.” Says your Popeye. 

You murmur in reply “It’s so good to have you home” with a smouldering gaze through fluttering eyelashes. 

All the while your lioness half is debating with yourself “Is this the time? Is this the time to strike?!” 

You mull it over for a few seconds, blood coursing through your veins. Heart pounding. Pulse racing. 

 You’ve waited so long for this, you need this. Your mind is spinning with fantasies you’ve been dreaming about during your time apart. 

Popeye goes for his second sip of tea. 

Now” whispers the lioness “just do it now, whilst he’s vulnerable”. 

……. 

You stand up, walk over to him, and get it out.

Placing the innocuous piece of paper down between you both, breathing heavily, trembling with excitement, you begin. 

“Popeye I need you, no, I want you to…. 

….. put the Christmas decorations in the loft, mow the lawn, hang that picture frame, ooh and Sweetpeas flat pack nursery furniture arrives tomorrow so you need to put that together too, the driveway needs pressure washing…” 

You can’t stop. It feels so good. So satisfying. 

You keep talking faster and faster, listing more and more jobs until Popeye just can’t take it anymore and you finish with a climax “Oh and can you sort out the shed, it’s a tip!” 

It feels so good. Finally you get what you need. 

All those weeks of dreaming and now those fantasies  are coming true. 

The “to do” list will be done. 

Oh yeah…

Muchos love

X

The H word

Homecoming. That date written in your diary then crossed out and written again a few days later because it got put back at some point over the last six or seven months.

Homecoming. The one day of your year where you experience ALL The emotional states known to mankind within a 24 hours period.

Homecoming, where you don’t know if your going to throw up, cry, shit yourself or have some weird pseudo orgasm.

Yep, it’s a tricky day alright. But I’d argue that for me, at least, homecoming starts about 2 days before I’m standing dockside listening to that bloody brass band.

H Minus 48 hours.

I am buffed, waxed, trimmed, polished to within an inch of my life, upon completion of this almost ritualistic Navy Wife MOT I return home feeling, sexy, glamorous and fresh. A little bit like Beyoncé crossed with Mary Poppins.

Sitting down on the sofa I nervously check my emails, again, and again. (No, none from Popeye in the last five minutes Olive!)Time to put another squeaky, high pitched, excited Facebook status up!

That done, a strange bubbling feeling begins to fizzle in my middle, my foot starts twitching, I jump up, walk to the kitchen and notice some washing up on the side. (At this point it has become a tradition in the Oyl household for me to listen to this song on repeat, very loudly.)

The cleaning binge begins.

Washing up leads to cleaning the sink, leads to cleaning the kitchen, leads to mopping the floor, leads to hoovering downstairs, which goes onto hoovering upstairs, that leads to dusting upstairs (the whole time my heart is thumping with adrenaline and I’m so wired I go to the loo for a wee like a zillion times).

After dusting, with sweat dripping down my freshly exfoliated face, things start to get really weird. These are all true things I have done two days before The Big H.

Cleaned ALL the windows. Inside and out.

De frosted the freezer, then cleaned the kitchen again because I’ve got melted ice water everywhere.

Washed, dried, and styled the dog.

Re cleaned the whole house as it smells of wet dog.

Pulled out the cooker (dangerous) and cleaned underneath and behind it.

Tidied the inside of all the cupboards in the house.

And finally:

Arranged all the DVDs alphabetically and by genre.

Seriously.

By now it is about 3am and my neighbours are about to complain. So I usually go to bed, cursing my now ruined manicure, blocked pores and bruised knees and wondering how long a burn from bleach takes to heal and can I cover it up with Max Factor…

H minus 24 hours. (think the Jack Bower countdown noise on 24, the TV show, click here!).

It’s time to get practical, I fill the car with petrol, check the tyre pressure, and start to tell everyone I see that Popeye is coming home.

Everyone.

My neighbours, the petrol station man, the check out girl, anyone I see on the dog walk, birds in the trees, inanimate objects…

At some point I do the all important food shop, buying Popeye a new toothbrush fills me with a level of excitement that is hard to contain. I buy all his favourite things and a bottle of champagne too.

I’m just too excited! When I get home, I pace, I jiggle, I tidy and re-tidy.

I get out my “homecoming outfit” and lay it out on the bed, I try it on, I freak out that it looks awful. I try on something else, freak out about that. Try on original outfit and get deodorant marks on it. Burst into tears and call my sister who calms me down and tells me to take off the clothes, put on the pyjamas and get some sleep. Sleep? Pah! The idea of sleeping verges on the ridiculous, as I verge on hysterical. I get maybe two hours then I am AWAKE!

And……

ITS HERE ITS HERE HOMECOMING IS HERE!

I get to see my husband again! All those months of tears and head tilts and parcels and lonely evenings in and weddings alone and emails and phone calls has come down to this day.

No pressure then!

I am out of the house at the crack of dawn, yet still always manage to get to the dock dangerously close to when the ship gets back. I have no idea where this time goes, but go it does.

Then the brass band starts playing, I find this particularly annoying, don’t ask me why but I feel it makes what is quite a personal moment feel like a parade.

When I see the ship, I get dizzy. My love for the much under appreciated tug boat must be noted now, because for all of the might of a warship, they still rely on the little tug boat to bring them safely home. I’ve always said to Popeye, if I was a ship I’d be a tug boat, small, chunky and sturdy, built to last and 100% dependable.

The ship comes alongside, and there they are! Gorgeous sailors standing in line, no matter what the weather. Then the search begins. Can you spot your sailor? For some reason if another wife finds Popeye first I get annoyed, so I scan frantically.

As a side note, at my first homecoming, after spending 6 months worrying whether I’d recognise Popeye, whether he would still fancy me, and whether he would get off the ship, look me up and down and go “erm, no thanks” and turn tail, I had decided, in my MOT wisdom, to not wear my glasses to homecoming.

Dear readers, I could not find Popeye on deck. Not only could I not find Popeye, but I started waving at a sailor I had guessed was Popeye, but in fact, was not. All the time Popeye can see me, frantically waving at the wrong sailor.

In summary, if you can wear your glasses. Or do as I did and invest in contacts.

Anyway….

You spot them! Then they disappear as they start to come down the gangway.

There they are.

And that’s it. That’s the moment. They are right there in front of you, and then they’re in your arms and you kiss. And time stands still, the world melts away and you drift away from your own body. Your spirit sings.

You’ve done it, they are there. Really there.

Home.

Muchos love,

Olive
X

Navy wife word porn

There are a few short phrases that will leave any military spouse weak at the knees, salivating, crouched ready to spring and jump her sailor.

We are a straight forward lot, our needs are simple, and our feelings strong.

Sailors! Take heed! Listen up! Just spout these phrases and your wife will become putty in your hand….

(*Please read this using the voice of the M&S advert lady for full effect.*)

“Comms are up, promise I’ll call later today”.

I’ve got that funny feeling in my tummy!

“I’ve taken Friday off”

Oh yeah! Hubba hubba.

“Weekend duty was cancelled”

Cue Marvin Gaye.

“I’m definitely home for Christmas/your birthday/our anniversary”

Eeeeeek!!! Having to hold myself back here!

“Deployment date is postponed”.

Move over Christian Grey. Popeye is 50 shades of battleship grey sexier than you right now.

“I’ll be coming home early, I’ve got advanced leave”.

It’s like I can hear my clothes saying “the floor! The floor! We should be on the flooooooor!!!”

And then the best, sexiest, most leg shaking, bits tingling words of all…

“Homecoming date has been brought forward”

Holy shit Popeye!

What can I say…you had me at homecoming.

Xxxx