Saturday, 30 August 2008

Night flights

My husband set off this evening for a night flight. He won't be able to go to bed until about 10am tomorrow morning British time.

I often think back to the days before I met my husband, when I arrived at airports late at night or at the crack of dawn, excited but knackered ahead of a week or two of holiday. I never gave a thought then to how tired the crew must be too. I suppose I thought they must be super-human, able to feel completely awake when I just wanted to sleep, or at the very least that they'd had a long sleep during the day, and been able to rest when I'd tried to get to sleep that afternoon, and failed miserably.

I know different now, of course. Technically, my husband had more than enough time to rest before the flight, but who can manage to sleep during the day on a sunny Saturday in August, when the windows have to be open, and kids are out playing outside? I can't, and neither can he. His body clock is so confused as a result of his job that he has basically no sleeping pattern to speak of.

It's not the flying I worry about, really - it's the driving he does to and from the airport. I had an accident a few years ago on my journey to work, so I know the affect tiredness can have on your concentration on what's going on around you on the road.

I can't wait until he's tucked up, safe and sound in bed tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Spanair flight JK 5022

As I heard the news about the Madrid MD82 crash yesterday, I could feel my heartbeat quicken and my mouth go dry. Everyone who loves a person who flies for a living finds these moments particularly hard. Never mind how statistically safe flying is, these events are always a horrible wake-up call about the extremely rare, but terrible accidents that are part and parcel of the nature of aviation.

I just want to send my condolences to the family and friends of the 153 people who died. I can't even begin to imagine how they must be feeling (and I don't particularly want to try, either), but I do want them to know that our prayers are with them.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Searching and not finding

I had a look in a book shop a few days ago, to see if there were any books in there with any pearls of wisdom about my baby-related predicament.

After a game of what felt like hide and seek amongst the shelves, I found the health section, only to be confronted by what seemed like thousands and thousands of books about babies. "How to get Pregnant", "Make me a Baby", "My baby week by week", "10, 000 Baby Names" - you name the book, they had it. Just what I wanted to see, of course.

Anyway, guess how many books there were about infertility. Go on, guess. There were four. I counted them. Are women who have fertility problems so very rare? I don't think so. It just seems that we must be invisible to book publishers.

Never mind, eh. There are whole internet communities full of women like me, so I can't be on my own here. I think I'll just stick to those lovely women I've met from across the world online - getting support from people who've been there and done that is always better anyway, isn't it. God bless the internet.

And God bless my husband, too, who's just been amazing about this. I'd have thought a hormonally challenged, broody wife would be enough for any man, but he's just been so amazingly understanding. We even manage to joke about it, thanks for his enduring sense of humour in all things. Thanks so much, darling, you're the best.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

When did I see you last?

The above question has been pretty prominent in my mind of late. We've been going through one of those spells where we've hardly seen each other. It seems that my husband's schedule couldn't be a worse fit for mine if it had actually been designed that way. We've had many of those "Hi darling, bye darling" moments at all funny times of the day and nights, and I think we've said more to each other in email and text lately than in person. Recently we rejoiced when we managed an hour and a half together before a very early bed! And our tiredness is, as ever, taking its toll, not so much on our moods, but on our feeling of wellbeing and work/life balance. I often think there isn't any in aviation!

Still, this is our holiday month! Hoorah. The joy of 24 hours a day with each other, uninterrupted by rostering, early flights and late night departures. A time to read a book and forget about climbing the slippery career ladder. Just suncream, wine, sand and hopefully sun (and not forgetting chips, crisps and chocolate, of course). Mmmmmm. Can't wait!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Pilot's wife = part-time singleton

The other weekend, I went to a friend's 40th birthday party by myself. My husband was away, and I really wanted to go to wish her many happy returns, as she's been a fantastic friend to me over the years. I was hoping one of our mutual friends would be going along too, but, as it turned out, the only other people I knew at the party were my friend's parents.

The evening that ensued was just the sort of evening you dread when you're single: being randomly introduced to people who clearly have very little interest in talking to you; listening in detail to someone's thrilling job in accountancy in the city; sitting alone in a corner eating your picking from the buffet whilst earwigging in on a conversation between two aunts discussing their husbands' bad habits. That sort of thing, anyway. I left pretty early.

It occurred to me that it's all symptomatic of the life we pilot's wives lead. I sort of have two lives, my married one, and a quasi-single one. When my husband is home we make the most of the time we have together, but when he's away, my life is very very different.

You get quite used to your own company, and in fact really learn to enjoy it. You also learn to plan your time apart so that you see your friends while your husband is away, so you don't waste your time together when he's home. And you also have a list of dull things you tend to do when he's on a trip - like going to the gym, doing the supermarket shopping, hoovering, attacking the ironing... oh, the delights!

And, inevitably, you end up going to significant occasions alone - birthdays, weddings, etc - and that's when I miss my husband most acutely, because parties are never so much fun when you've no partner in crime! Although the significant difference is that luckily, my singleton status is only temporary, as I'm lucky enough to have a husband who will be flying home to me soon. Very lucky indeed, in fact. Good partners in crime are hard to find.

Friday, 1 August 2008

That old pilot-air hostess chestnut

I felt prompted to write this by a post on another pilot's wife blog (which I like very much) - Musings of Cpt J's Wife. In it, she responds to posts on a forum she reads from women who trust their pilot husband/boyfriend completely not to cheat on them. It's clear they've touched a nerve. This is what Cpt J's wife has to say (this is abridged from her post - click through for her full post, which has a lot more detail):

"Don't "assume" that your SO is so head-over-heels for you that he won't cheat.
Regardless of the laws you lay down, if they are going to cheat they will
cheat - REGARDLESS! If you think that you are immune to the ups and downs of
this lifestyle you are living in a bubble. You cannot truly give an opinion
or tell someone what to do unless you have been in this industry for quite
some time. I feel sorry for these women that will come back to the forums in
a few months or year and cry that it has happened to them. "

From her post, it's very clear that Capt J's Wife has been hurt deeply in the past. I was very sorry to hear about it, and I understand completely why she must feel that other women are living in ignorance (as I'm sure some are, by a law of averages).

I do agree that if someone's going to cheat, they will cheat, no matter how many 'laws' are agreed between a couple. I also agree that you can't really give good advice or your opinion to someone in a particular situation unless you've been through it yourself. However, I do disagree with a lot of what she says.

Speaking from my own experience, I do believe that my husband loves me so much that he will never cheat, partly because I apply that same rule to myself, and know that my depth of feeling for him would mean I will never want to stray either. This is coming from a partnership with many years under its belt, and a great deal of experience of the aviation industry, too, so we're not exactly new to this.

We have absolute trust between us. However, this isn't just blind trust; he's never given me reason to worry. He's more of a culture-vulture than a drinker and sunbather, so when he's on a trip he's much more likely to be in bed early so that he can sight-see the next day, rather than staying up late to go to drink with the crew. Having said that, even when he ends up socialising with the crew on a night out - I still trust him, because of who he is, and how well I know him.

I also think it's important to get the amount of cheating that goes on into perspective. Tempting as it might be to think that all these women who are in nauseatingly happy relationships are kidding themselves, I believe that most of them aren't.

What it boils down to, I think, is this. If someone's going to cheat, they will do, whatever their job - policeman, lawyer, postman, milkman... I mean, what about doctors and nurses? That's even more of a cliche than pilot and air stewardess! It's certainly a great industry if you're going to cheat, but I still maintain that that really doesn't mean that everyone (man or woman, let's remember there are women in this industry too) is going to do it! I think, therefore, that Cpt J's Wife's final point - that these same women will come back to the forum, crying that their husbands have cheated on them - is wide of the mark.

I think people get carried away with the stereotyping of pilots. It's like saying that all lawyers are avaricious, that all nurses are naughty, and that all policemen plod! Pilots are individuals, just like everyone else, and some will cheat, and some won't. Only they - and often their partners - know whether they have, or will, or haven't, and won't.

And don't forget that it's perfectly possible for the partner at home to cheat too. In fact I read an article by Edwina Currie (think John Major and his blue pants - yuck) the other week, in which she argued that many women cheat, but they're better at hiding it so they don't get found out. But that's for another post I think!



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