Out of the loft popped a dusty box labelled “Tropical Whites”. It has been there for 36 years on the remote off-chance that, when I was still in the Navy, I might have been sent back to an overseas appointment.
Buried in the box were a pair of brand new, classically ugly white canvas lace-up flat shoes – completely understandable why they’d never been worn. Nestling below, some still in their original packaging, a selection of white uniform skirts, shirts and dresses. They’d all been in the box even longer: issued to me in 1978 as I deployed for my first job in Naples as a newly-fledged WRNS Officer.
How I loathed that uniform which is clearly why it was never used. Instead, we all tended to wear the dresses that, once one had a bit of a tan, were nearly see-through as the outline of white underwear was clear against brown skin. No wonder we got attention from male colleagues.
The package is now consigned for the recycling centre – another bit of history. But I’ve still got a huge bag of blue uniform in another loft and a boat cloak that still rotates, unworn, between wardrobes. Some memories are more difficult to extinguish.