Ben is a naval officer and the pride of his parents - middle class and struggling - who have put all their energies into their son's career and are so content that he has made the grade and become a naval officer. Ben is widowed (in complicated circumstances) which the parents prefer to gloss over and ignore though they do love their grand daughter.
Ben is decommissioned along with several other officers but to Ben's parents it is almost his fault and they make no bones about the fact that it need not have been so! Ben is depressed and humiliated as it is and this attitude makes it much worse. To add to his troubles he finds it very difficult to find a suitable job and after disastrous starts and ends, he ends up clearing tables in a cafe.
For Ben any job was better than no job at all but for the fickle and fashionable small time TV star who is his so called fiancee and for his parents this was degradation at its height. Ben has no knowledge of anything outside the submarines and the Navy and is not fitted for the average working life and this book is humourous and at the same time sympathetic of the thousands of service men who are ill fitted for any life other than the services and are at a loose end as to what to do usefully till they retire. Ben and the people in his own world find it so difficult to adapt to the changing world of civilian life around him.
This book got me thinking - are people in the services still like this or do they remain in the services till they retire. Do they know anything other than the military or the navy and how do they fit into civilian life once that part of their lives are over? I have no one in my family in any of the services but this book did get me thinking - in our country we have a huge army, navy and airforce and police - not at all proportionate to our population mainly because of the 30 year civil war we had - what do they do now. We still have a huge military presence but I do know that many people took early retirement. How do they cope?
I am always glad when a book gets me thinking. This was highlighted only today in a post by Sheila from Book Journey.
The New Year celebrations have started. The New year dawned (funny description that! at 10.40 pm last night). Today is a day for visits to the temple, visits to immediate family and much family reunions and celebrations.