Memories of my youth: MJ carries on.

It was the early 70’s. We hadn’t been married very long, and were still living in England. Back then, the British tradition was that worker strikes would cause rolling electricity blackouts every winter. It might be the electrical workers in the coal-fired power plants. It might be the train crews of British Rail, who hauled the coal. Or it might be coal workers themselves, in the black pits of Lancashire. Whoever it was, you could be sure of ending up with four hours of power, at the most inconvenient times. This time it was the coal workers.

We had just moved into a new house, third and last of our homes in the UK, in a small town north of Cambridge. The others had been furnished. This one was also furnished: bed, sofa, kitchen table, two straight chairs, and a TV. We went out and splurged on new furniture, to be delivered when available, and went home to our cold and somewhat Spartan digs.

Well, MJ went home. I went to Crete on a deployment to support some Army units that were training on the missile range at Souda Bay. It was a month in the sunshine of the Eastern Med (but it was March, so not so warm), working every three days when a new Army unit rolled in. The harbour at Kania was a little gem (some Hollywood stars have bigger pools), with fishing boats moored alongside, and octupi drying on lines next to them. We sat at a little cafe and drank retsinated wine and dined on calamari and moussaka.

A month later and it was over. We flew back in our C-130, loaded with souvenirs. I got back to the house in the dark of a high latitude afternoon, and met a bunch of workmen getting into their truck. The power cuts had ended that morning, and the furniture had just been delivered. MJ seemed a little miffed, for some reason.

Now, almost half a century later, MJ is sitting at home with a shattered shoulder and no idea of when the replacement surgery will be, nursing one of our favourite dogs, who is dying of cancer. Or maybe dying of chemo is a better phrase.

And me? I’m heading out to the airport for a two-week trip to London and Cambridge. MJ seems a little miffed.


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