January 31st, 1989

January 31st, 1989

At home

Should probably give this a miss tonight, because I have to get up in six hours, but I’ll never again be on Day Two of British Airways Cabin Crew Training, so here goes…

We covered a lot in class today but the best part, by far, was boarding the TriStar, aka the Lockheed L-1011. Each step I took on the stairs, up towards the TriStar felt so exciting, and when I stepped onboard, I actually had butterflies. Lolly was in front of me, and when she turned around, she had a huge smile on her face.

For some in our group, today was their first time on a wide-bodied aircraft, and there were lots of “oohhs” and “ahhs.” Our group, and three trainers, were the only ones onboard and the first thing they asked us to do was take a seat. Carl quipped something funny about there not being enough seats for us, which made everyone laugh. I sat beside Kimberly (the girl from Manchester) and Sam, and they each commented on how huge the interior of the aircraft appeared. Kimberly said she can’t imagine facing the hundreds of passengers the TriStar holds, and Sam said maybe she should rethink her flying career!

Neither Lolly, Kimberly, Carl or Sam have any airline experience, and I think they’re fortunate to be starting out, not only with British Airways, but on a twin aisled aircraft. Daniel (from Manchester) just left Monarch airlines, and agreed with me that this will be very different to the Boeing 737 and 757’s we’re used to working on.

After our introduction to the aircraft, we got to look around for a couple of hours, locating some of the things the trainers had already discussed. The TriStar is equipped with an elevator that takes you down to the galley. According to Sandra (one of our trainers) that particular working position is very popular with the “more seasoned crew who no longer want to work directly with passengers!”

Personally, I hope I never have to work down there alone. That doesn’t appeal to me at all.

Took ages to get home as there was smoke reported at one of the tube stations, and we got diverted to Leicester Square. Needless to say, by the time I got home, I felt totally knackered.

Mum said Nana was anxious to hear how I was getting on, so we rang her.

“I’m glad the first couple of days went well for you. That’s usually the worst part.”

“They’re a nice bunch, Nana, I think it’s going to be great.”

“I’m excited for you hen. Will you working on Concorde?”

“Oh no,” I laughed. “You only get to fly on Concorde after you’ve been with the company for at least a hundred years.”

“Uff, you’re an awful lassie,” she said with a little giggle. “Well I’ll be down at Easter so I’ll see you then.”

I didn’t have the heart to say I might not be here. Who knows where I’ll be by then?

Missed Ben again, literally, as in he rang earlier. Ugh, I hate missing him, but I can’t get into all that right now, time for some shut-eye…

 

 

January 30th, 1989

January 30th, 1989

At home

Very early start in the dark this morning;

Taxi from home to the train station – ten minutes.

Train to London – fifty minutes.

Tube from Euston to Hatton Cross – twenty-five minutes.

Walk to Cranebank – twenty minutes.

And this will be my commute for the next six weeks. Why? Because I just started Cabin Crew training with British Airways.

Cranebank (BA’s training school) is massive and I felt a bit nervous walking in for the first time, but there were signs on where to go. I was one of the first in the classroom, which was good as I got to watch everyone else arriving. The first person I spoke to is a friendly guy called Carl. I think he could be a bit of a lad, but very funny with it. The next person in was Lolly, a really pretty girl who sat next to me, and even although we just met, I can imagine us being friends.

We have three instructors who have each been flying for fifteen years or more. They talked to us about the history of British Airways, and then we went around the room introducing ourselves. As lame as that “exercise” was, I actually enjoyed hearing about everyone’s backgrounds. Seems half of us have worked for other airlines, mostly charter flying with Monarch, Britannia, Dan Air, and of course Air Europe.

Much of the day was spent talking about the British Airways brand, and it was made quite clear that expectations are high, for cabin crew with “The World’s Favourite.”

Didn’t get too much time to talk amongst ourselves, but I did get to chat a little to Carl and Lolly. There’s a zany girl from Australia, and three girls from Scotland (not including me.) The Scottish girls seem really nice, Lorna is the oldest, and it sounds like she’s lived in a lot of different places. A tall Irish girl, but I can’t remember her name. A guy from Manchester who I think will come out of his shell sooner than most of us, and there’s a girl from Manchester as well, but she didn’t say much. Guy called Sam, whose expressions made me laugh, and a few others, whose names I can’t remember.

A girl called Maisy from my class, gave me a lift to Hatton Cross tube station. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to her the entire day, but I did hear her nervous giggle. She talked while she drove, all the way to the tube station, but I didn’t care because she saved me from a twenty-minute walk in the cold.

Took two and a half hours to get home. That’ll get old fast, then again it’s only for six weeks, after which I get to fly around the world! Now that the first day is over, I’m actually really excited at the prospect of it all.

 

 

 

January 29th, 1989

January 29th, 1989

At home

Can’t believe tomorrow is the big day! I’m not particularly looking forward to the commute or the classes, but I’m interested to meet the people I’m training with. Of course the thing I’m most looking forward to is flying again, especially to the destinations British Airways has to offer.

I’d only been up for a little while this morning, when mum got home from church. Which meant I missed breakfast. Typically, I’d make up for it by having a huge lunch, but induced by sheer panic at the thought of a new uniform, I ate a sad, limp salad. The last few Chips Ahoy cookies were screaming at me to release them from their spot in the pantry. I did open the door and gazed longingly at the package, but then I slammed the door shut. On second thought, I should’ve just eaten them because, as usual, I’ve left it a bit late to lose weight.

Mum was full of energy today and said we should clean out my wardrobe to make space for my new uniforms. I really wasn’t in the mood for a clear out but when mum gets an idea in her head you can’t really stop her. I pretended to be interested in the task at hand, but I was thinking about Ben.

“Mum, can we wait and do this later?”
“No, it’s chock-a-block in here.” Her body was halfway in the wardrobe and her words sounded mumbled.

“Mum,” I said, tapping her shoulder. “I need some exercise, I’m going out on my bike.”

She drew herself out of the wardrobe and looked at me. “Are you nervous about tomorrow?”

“No. Why?”

“Just wondering.”

I got my bike out of the shed and ten minutes later I was at Susan and Stan’s. Susan opened the door and as always, she was really welcoming. Stan was watching tv in the living room and we had a quick chat about America, then we left him to the football, and sat in the dining room. Susan was excited when I told her I start training tomorrow. “Oh love,” she said, giving me a hug. “You’ll be flying all over the world. Isn’t that something.”

Susan has never been anything but nice to me, even during the times Ben and I weren’t together. He’s lucky to have such a lovely mum.

I came home at eight and dad seemed a bit agitated.

“You shouldn’t be out gallivanting when you have to get ready for tomorrow.”

“Everything’s ready.”

“Do you have the train times?”

“No, not yet.”

“Did you phone for a taxi to pick you up in the morning?”

“Not yet.”

“Did you fill in your paperwork?”

I thought about saying yes just to shut him up, but I can’t lie to my dad. “Not yet. I’m going to do it all now.”

“Don’t forget to set your alarm, although I’ll be up. But just in case.”

“Ok, thanks dad,” I said, heading for the stairs.

“Oh, and Pamsy phoned, lovely lassie that. She wants you to phone her back.”

“Did anyone else ring?”

“No, just Pamsy.”

I guess Ben must be on airport duty again. Being at his parents’ today, seeing some of his stuff scattered around has made me miss him more than usual. I can’t wait to be with him again. In every way. Yes, that too! I did have a few close encounters with Gabriel, but we never went that far, and I’m glad we didn’t because I really just want Ben.

 

 

 

 

January 28th, 1989

January 28th, 1989

At home

 

Could’ve slept longer this morning, but had to get up and go to the bank to open a new account, because I lost my passbook.

I spent a bit less in Florida than I expected to, so of course I went straight from the bank, to the shops! Bought a bunch of new clothes in Next, none of them suitable for this weather. I’m thinking ahead to long BA trips to sunnier climes.

Bought a scientific calculator for dad (“that’s brilliant hen, it’ll really help me at work.”)

Some gifts, from John Lewis, to send to Miriam and Liza to thank them for their hospitality. While I was waiting, in the rain, for the bus to come home, I decided it’s time to start looking for a car.

Messed around in my room, listened to loads of music, then heard mum calling me.

“Karen! Phone!”

I dashed downstairs and was surprised to find mum still on the phone. “Oh aye, I hope so. Right, well here she is, cheerio,” she said, handing the receiver to me. I mouthed, “Who is it?” All mum said was, “take it.”

“Hello?”

“McGarr,” said the only person who ever calls me by my surname.

“Oh, it’s you,” I said, immediately feeling foolish.

“Yes, it’s me. Funny that.”

The way he said it made me laugh. “Sorry, I wasn’t expecting it to be you.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” he said.

“Shall we start again?”

“Let’s see, we went out with each other a couple of years ago. Went on holiday together a few times to some nice places. Is this ringing any bells?”

“No, nothing at all,” I teased, “I need more than that.”

“Funny as always,” he laughed. “How the hell are you McGarr? Welcome back. How was Florida?”

We spoke for over two hours, and every time mum walked past me in the hall she did so with a big smile on her face.

Sarah rang and invited me round to their new flat to play cards (yawn) and watch videos. I asked who would be there, and it was all so and so, and so and so, and so and so. Basically, all couples.

“Yikers,” I said, borrowing one of Carina’s favourite expressions, not knowing if I was even using it in the right context. “I’m so sorry Sarah, I just remembered I have a bunch of paperwork to fill in before I show up at British Airways on Monday.”

“Boo, not fair.” Even through the phone, I could sense her sulking.

“I know, what a shame. Another time, yeah?”

“Yes! Next weekend, we’ll be doing it all over again.”

Shit.

 

 

 

January 27th, 1989

January 27th, 1989

At home

I wasn’t expecting to be at home tonight. The plan was to take the train from Pamsy’s to Stephen’s and spend Friday night out on the town with him in Brighton. Unfortunately, our plans were squashed when Stephen got called out on standby for a Tenerife.

Pamsy had a flight to Geneva, so she dropped me off at Gatwick. From there, it took almost three hours to get home on two trains and two tubes, and I swear I’ll never make that arduous trek again with a heavy suitcase (Pamsy took my third suitcase home with her when we got back from Florida.)

I was in a foul mood when I finally got home, and dad didn’t help matters when he started asking me about how I’m getting to class on Monday. He was going on and on about how I should ring the train station and get the train times sorted out now and not wait until the last minute. Blah, blah, blah. I reminded him it’s only Friday. I could tell he was equally annoyed with me, but really, I have plenty of time to sort all of that out. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do after spending hours on trains and tubes was get info on more trains and tubes! The thing that put me in a worse mood though, was mum telling me I missed a call from Ben. Ugh, I hate missing him.

I’m in bed and I thought after today’s very early start I’d be knackered, but I’m not. Had to get up early at Pamsy’s because the estate agent was coming over to value the flat. Nicolai introduced himself, then proceeded to strut around Pamsy’s flat, taking notes on the company’s gold letterhead.

When he spotted Pamsy’s uniform hanging up in her bedroom, he flashed her his cheesy smile and asked, “is that yours?”I don’t know how she managed to keep a straight face when she said, “No, sadly it’s not. I rented it for a fancy dress party. I’ve always wanted to be an air hostess, but this is as close as I’ll probably ever get.”

“Me too,” I sighed, not daring to look at her.
“Oh I dunno,” he said looking the pair of us up and down. “Good looking birds, I mean, girls like you, might have a chance.”

“Do you think so Nicolai?” I asked, in a wistful tone.

Just to make sure he was still sure, Nicolai slowly took the two of us in again. “Yeah, I do actually. You two would look the dogs bolloc, I mean, great in them red uniforms the Virgin Atlantic birds wear, with the stiletto’s and all that.”

“We can only dream Nicolai,” I breathed.

“Me mates call me Nic, no k, just the c. Feel free.”

Pamsy said, “If it’s not too much trouble, could you give me an estimate of the value of the flat?”
“I’ll ‘ave the secretary type it up, and send it. Or if you’ve got a bit of time I can stay and write it up for you.”

“Sorry,” Pamsy said, walking in the direction of the door. “No time.”

“I’ll be down the Bell tonight with some of me mates. If you girls are about, we’ll throw a few drinks down us then go clubbing.”

Pamsy held the door open. “Bye Nic, no k, just the c, gotta go.”

“See you down the pub then later?” he asked, as Pamsy shuffled him out the door.

“Not me mate,” she said closing the door. “I have a flight to catch.”

 

 

 

January 26th, 1989

January 26th, 1989
East Sussex.

Pamsy met me at my favourite train station, the very quaint Cooden Beach. No doubt at some point, it’ll get modernized, but if I had my way, it would never change. Took two trains to get here, and the second train was one of the old fashioned ones I love, with the compartments that seat only six people. For over an hour, I had the compartment to myself, and used the luxury of the setting, to start writing a short story, about a girl on a train.

Stopped in at Pamsy’s parents’ house first, and had a lovely catch up with them. Then we came to the flat, and Pamsy “whipped up,” dinner for us. The only place left to sit, is on the couch, because Kim moved out and took the kitchen table, and chairs, with her.

Balancing my plate on my lap (not my favourite way to eat) I said to Pamsy, “I wish I could cook like this. It’s so good.”
“It’s just sweet and sour chicken, you could easily make it.”
“I don’t think so. You know how hopeless I am in the kitchen.”
“You love baking. Who was it who said, let them eat cake?”
“Marie Antoinette, and what she actually said, was, ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.’”
“Which means?”
“Let them eat brioche.”
“Silly cow.”
Pamsy said it with such conviction, that I couldn’t help but laugh.

We caught the last few minutes of a groovy looking French film, and realized our French isn’t good enough not to require subtitles. We also realized that it’s really difficult to talk, and read subtitles, at the same time. When the closing credits were running, Pamsy asked, “When is Ben coming home from Italy?”
“Hopefully soon.”
“And?”
“And what?”
“What do you think will happen?” she asked.
“What do you think will happen?”
“Do you want my honest opinion?” she asked, taking my plate, and walking into the kitchen. I followed her. Pamsy put our plates in the sink, and turned to me. I nodded my head, “yes.”
“I think you’ll shag him, and fall madly in love with him all over again, and put yourself in great peril of getting your heart broken. Again.”
“Ouch,” I said.
“Sorry,” she said. “I know it sounds harsh, but I can’t bear to see you going through all of that again. I loved seeing you happy in Florida, and hearing about you and Gabriel.”
“You can’t compare Gabriel, to Ben,” I said, suddenly feeling defensive.
“My point is, you were happy there. Without him.”
“I still thought about him.”
“But you’ve survived for month’s without him.”
I let out a long, guttural sound, and Pamsy started laughing. “Only Scottish people can make that sound,” she said, which made me laugh too.
“I’m sorry if I’ve upset you. I just want you be happy. Shall we leave it at that?”
“I think that’s a good idea.”
“Oh, and I have something that will cheer you up.”
“What is it? I asked.
“Turn around,” she said, gesturing with her hand. I turned my back to her, and heard the pantry door creaking.
“Ok, you can turn around,” she said.
When I did, Pamsy had a huge smile on her face, holding a package of Chips Ahoy.

January 25th, 1989

January 25th, 1989
Birch Road

I’m back in my old bed, in my old room, here at Birch Road.

The last time I slept here was with Ben, the night before I left for Florida. We really didn’t end on a good note. We were civil to one another, but those last few days with him (more like weeks) were just a nightmare, and I was so ready to leave, and get away from him. Of course the minute I did, I missed him, and cried all the way across the Atlantic.

This must be “Remembering Ben Day,” because this morning, on my way to the dentist, I cycled past his old house. I stopped, looked up at his old bedroom window, and thought about some of the times we spent in his room. So much has happened between us in the six years we’ve known each other, and I suppose all I can do now is wait and see how it is, when he comes back.

Just getting here today, was such a trek, on two trains and a tube. Sounds like a movie!
Simone’s brother was here when I arrived, with some new girlie, called Caroline.
She’s really thin, she must weigh about seven stone. She didn’t eat anything Belinda cooked, all she did was move the food around her plate. She did drink an entire bottle of wine, though. Yes, I was paying close attention, and no, I don’t know why!

Belinda and her guy seem happy together, but I still don’t think they’re well suited. I find him to be a bit of a bore actually, and I think he’s really bossy as well. Belinda appears to be at his beck and call, and I just feel she could do so much better. Oh, I’m such a love expert tonight! I think it’s just being here, and thinking about Ben, and how it was with him living here (disastrous!)

Davina came bounding through the door, and didn’t stop talking the entire night…that’s Davina! She’s lovely though, and I do miss living in the same house, hearing her tales from the cosmetic counters, of London’s finest department store.

Caroline said she’d like to go to the pub, so she and Sean left, and Belinda told me that’s all the two of them ever do. Apparently, Caroline’s been on the scene for almost three month’s, and Belinda has yet to see her eat.

Maybe, in order to eat less, I need to start drinking more!

January 24th, 1989

January 24th, 1989
Home

It’s sooooo cold! As happy as I am to be home, I’m definitely missing the Florida sunshine. And I’m still a bit messed up with the time change, and have been up since four this morning. And, there’s one package of Chips Ahoy missing. I know nothing!

Went shopping with mum, and she bought me a few fun pieces of jewelry, from Miss Selfridge. Then, I got my hair chopped, which it really needed, after being away for so long. I thought about having it cut while I was in Orlando, but soon changed my mind when I saw what was considered “fashionable,” there!

Spent the afternoon catching up with Sarah, and you could’ve blown me down with a feather, when she told me she’s moving in with Simon! I’ve always pegged Sarah as very traditional, and after she told me about the move, I expected her to say she and Simon are getting engaged, but no.

Sarah said Lucy came home for Christmas, but apparently Lucy didn’t quite seem like herself. I hope she’s ok, I must ring her. I wonder if Lucy will be surprised to hear that Sarah and Simon are moving in together.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four years, since the three of us left Secondary school, but even although our lives are moving in different directions, I’m glad we’re still friends.

When Sarah split up with Rob (I should say when Rob split up with Sarah) I didn’t think she’d get serious with anyone else, but I guess I was wrong. She and Rob were joined at the hip for years, all through Secondary school, and she was heartbroken when they split up. And yet, here she is, moving on, and in, with Simon.

Love is so confusing.

Speaking of….Ben rang. He’d just woken up from a nap, and his voice sounded really deep, and soooo sexy. He said he’s more than ready to come home, and he misses me, and loves me loads. Aaahhhhh, yes, hurry up! After talking to him, I put my headphones on, and lay on the floor in my room, listening to some of our favourite music. I closed my eyes, and allowed my mind drift off, remembering the many, magical times we’ve spent on his little bed.

January 23rd, 1989

January 23rd, 1989
Home.

Woke up early, thanks to the five-hour time change. I could hear mum moving around, downstairs in the kitchen, with the radio on, so I got up. Mum was all smiles, and made me tea and toast. She wasted no time, barraging me with questions, the first of which was, “When will Ben be back from Italy?”
“He doesn’t know yet, but hopefully it’ll be in the next couple of weeks.”
“Well, you’ll be busy by then on your training course, so you have to…”
“Mum, I know. Don’t worry, I won’t let him distract me.”
She smiled at me from the other side of the table, and I changed the subject.

It was cold and dreary all day, so I stayed at home, which was lovely. Played lots of music in my room, and danced around a bit to Erasure’s ‘The Innocents,’ as well as some old stuff by Eurythmics, and Kate Bush (I’ll never get tired of listening to Annie, or Kate, sing.) It’s so strange to think I’ve been away for a while, because now I’m back, it feels like I never left.

Busy phone day;

Pamsy – She rang me, and we chatted for ages. Apparently, Kim moved her stuff, out of their flat, leaving it very bare-looking. It’s such a shame Pamsy bought the flat with Kim, and that none of it has gone as planned. Kim told her that she and Dick will be getting married this summer, as soon as he’s divorced! I still can’t believe Kim is marrying a guy almost thirty years older than we are. Pamsy’s really upset about the flat situation, and will probably have to sell it now. Bloody men, getting in the way! Says she, who’s desperate to see Ben. At least he’s single. And, only a year older than me.

Belinda – Calling from my last abode, Birch Road. There was never dull moment there, such a fun place to live (apart from when Ben moved in three months before I left for Florida, and turned everything upside down.) Belinda said Simone (best landlady in London, ever!) went back to Indonesia, on a three-month work contract, with the same hotel chain. It’s too bad Simone won’t be at Birch Road, when I go and pick up the rest of my stuff. Belinda wanted to know “everything that happened, in America,” but I could hardly fit two months’ of life into a thirty-minute phone chat.

Nana – Really, lovely chat, and hopefully she’ll make it down from Scotland, at Easter.

Stephen – Cracked me up, as always. Must get to Brighton soon to catch up with him.

Back in bed again, thinking about Ben (how unusual.) I missed talking to him today, but he had airport duty, so I knew he wouldn’t be around to chat. I feel ecstatic, and petrified, at the thought of seeing him again. How many times have I heard the same words from him? Well, maybe not exactly the same, but words to the same effect. I would love this to be “it” for us, I really would. And yes, I’ve met others along the way, but nobody ever compares to Ben.

January 22nd, 1989

January 22nd, 1989
Home sweet home!

Felt excited this morning, when the green patchwork quilt (aka Blighty) came into view, on our descent into Gatwick.

Said bye to Pamsy, and off we went, in the opposite direction to each other. I caught the Gatwick Express train into central London, and then I had to get two tubes, which involved going up and down about six different escalators. No fun at all with two suitcases. I was so relieved to get a seat, close to the luggage area, on the train home, from Euston.

An hour later, as the train was pulling into the station, I saw mum and dad on the platform, and the second I did, I realized how much I’ve missed them. While the train slowed to a stop, I watched their heads follow the compartments, and when mum spotted me, she clutched dad’s arm, pointed, and waved furiously.

Mum grabbed me the second I stepped off the train, and dad jumped on and grabbed my suitcases.
“We were hoping you’d be on this one,” mum said.
“Sorry I didn’t get a chance to phone. If I had, I would’ve missed it.”
“We’re glad to see you,” my dad said, tousling my hair. “You look like the picture of health, doesn’t she, Liz?”
“Oh aye, that lovely Florida sunshine did you the world of good. I cannae wait to hear all about it,” mum said, linking her arm with mine, on our way out of the station.

Ten minutes later, my journey was just about at an end, when dad put his key in the front door. I could hear Tini barking, and through the glass door, I watched him running up and down the hallway.

After lunch, we exchanged Christmas presents, and dad was amused when I asked him to play Christmas music. Tini sat by my side all afternoon, and he loved the treats I brought him from Disney, in the shape of Mickey’s head. Mum said, “If I’d known you still wanted Christmas, I’d have kept the tree up.”

Mum handed me a stack of post, and I skimmed through what appeared to be mostly Christmas cards, and a few letters. My heart leapt at the sight of Ben’s handwriting, and I tore the envelope open, and read his letter in record time. And then I read it again. And then I looked at the clock, and calculated how many hours it would be, until he rang.

I got myself situated on the phone chair twenty minutes before Ben said he’d be ringing. And when he did, I was positively thrilled. We were on the phone for almost three hours, but it didn’t feel that long at all.
“So, did you leave a trail of broken hearts behind in Florida?” he asked.
I laughed, “I don’t believe so.”
“Did you meet anyone?”
“I met lots of people,” I said, feeling cocky.
“You know what I mean.”
I thought about mentioning Gabriel, but then I thought better of it, so I said, “I met some nice people I went out and about with, to clubs, and stuff like that.”
I was expecting him to ask more questions, but instead he said, “When I come home, we need to talk about being together. Forever.”
“Forever?” I asked, just as mum walked past me in the hall. She gave me a disapproving look that I pretended not to see. “Eh, yeah, we can talk about that.”
“Is that what you want?” He sounded very serious.
Mum went into the living room, and I closed the door behind her.
“Yes,” I said. “That’s what I want.”

I’m in bed (love being back in my room) and I’ve been thinking so much about our chat, and what Ben proposed, and how I responded. I’m absolutely desperate to see him again, and us being together, in a lifelong commitment, is what I wanted. Before I left. But, we’ve apart for a couple of month’s, and I think I got caught up in the excitement of hearing his voice again. And as desperate as I am to see him, I don’t want my heart broken again.

I need to tread very carefully with him. And that’s never been my strong suit.