‘Did you do it? Did ya?’ I listened while she told me what she’d done. We laughed. We flirted, moderately. ‘You’re a star,’ I said, ‘Thanks darlin’.’
My Sergeant Major had told me he’d do, and he had. I knew he would, he was a tough bastard, Robeson.
‘Axl, you little shit. You’d better not be winding me up. Give me her number? NOW!’
Christmas leave was coming up and I’d been told it was a week. The love of my life was half way round the world. She’d been travelling for a year, and we’d hardly seen one another. We tried to speak as much as possible, but it was hard, what with my patrol duties and her island hopping. I needed to see her. And besides, Aldershot was doing my head in.
As I said, I had a weeks’ leave but needed to fly to Australia. I concocted a plan.
I’d often walk past the local travel agent in the town and was aware of the girls sat at the desks inside. My mates and I would stop and look at the latest deals, managing a cheeky peak at the totty, who were always willing to flash their pearly whites at us. Sometimes they’d wave and we’d cock our heads at them and walk on by. And then one day, I went in.
‘Alright ladies’, I said, and planted myself at the desk of the one who always blushed whenever she saw me. What I needed was a one to one with one of them, and fortunately for me some other customers came into the office which meant that there’d be no eavesdropping.
‘So, I need to book a return flight to Perth leaving on the 23rd of December, coming back about 4 weeks later. And I need a receipt saying that I’m coming back a week from the 23rd.’
‘Soldier are you?, she said.
‘Yup, parachute regiment.’
‘Mmmm, yes. Lovely. Really? Parachuting, brave. I could never do that. Don’t you get scared? So, 23rd of Decccccember. It’s just loading. Um, sorry, what did you say? Coming back a month later, right? Ok, what have we got here then. 23rd of December, coming back a month later. Flexible by two or three days? Um, what did you say before? Coming back about a month later, but a receipt for….’
‘Yeah, a receipt saying I was coming back a week later.’
Our eyes locked. I smiled at her. She blushed, then quickly smiled and looked me square in the eye.
‘What are you up to?’
I laughed, and began to tell her my story.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Sandy, what’s yours?’
‘Frank. So, Sandy. This is what’s going on…..’
The truth was that this could have gone either way. She’d either resent me for flirting with her and tell me to F-off or she’d buy into the romance of it and fall hook, line, and sinker.
‘I’m gonna be honest with you, right. My girlfriend is backpacking around Australia and I haven’t seen her for a year. All I’ve got is one weeks’ leave coming up and I need to find a way of extending that into a month without getting into trouble. I’ll be AWOL, but can’t be. I’m desperate to see her, to make sure she’s ok, but have no way of knowing when I’ll be getting time off again. Can you help me? Please? Any chance? I’ll take you for a drink?’
She smiled at me.
‘God, you’re sooooo romantic.’ She twiddled her hair, and looked at me again. ‘Ok, yes, I’ll do it.’
‘You’re fantastic darlin’. Thanks. Um, there’s one more thing though. Sorry. You see, my sergeant major is a right bastard and he might call you, well I mean, he will call you. Would you be able to tell him that there was a flight delay problem?’
For some reason, she bought it and agreed to everything. I paid for my flight, got my dodgy receipt, and her phone number, and headed out into the cold December afternoon as smug as you like.
A few days later I landed in Perth and immediately made the call to my COS. I told him that someone had made a mistake and the dates on my ticket were for a month later. I was desperately searching for a flight home, but none were available and I was stuck. Job done.
Suffice to say, my holiday in Aus was amazing: a month of sun, sea and sand. And my love of course. Also, suffice to say…..upon my return he made the call.
Sandy was an absolute star. Not only did she remember our deal. She performed it to absolute perfection….and more. Apparently, according to Sergeant Robeson, my carrier had got the dates wrong on the ticket. Sandy had explained to him that it wasn’t their mistake so how could he blame them. The airline I’d travelled with had royally messed up the flight times, and they were the ones to blame.
Had I been found out I’d have done two days in jail for every day I was away. At the very least. This was what I was willing to do for love. Oh, and some serious sunshine.