March 1st, 1989
Flight time home from Jeddah was just under six hours and I stepped off the TriStar this morning (flight deck landing into LHR, just amazing) fresher than I ever did after working on any Air Europe flight. Meryl said she was relieved to have the first trip over with and Alan pulled the two of us aside and said we did really well. I think we were fortunate to have such a lovely, supportive crew on our first trip.
I got home just before eight am and when the taxi pulled up outside the house, I was surprised to see dad coming round the corner with Tini. Dad was equally surprised to see me getting out of the taxi and Tini started barking and wagging his tail like he hadn’t seen me in weeks. I took Tini’s leash, while dad paid the taxi driver and got my suitcase out of the boot.
“Cheers mate,” the taxi driver said, acknowledging what I imagine was a healthy tip.
Dad gave a little wave as the taxi drove off. “You’re early,” he said, giving me a hug.
“Less people coming out of London than going in. Still a nightmare with a suitcase though,” I said.
“This thing’s no light,” dad said, as we walked to the front door.
“What are you doing home in the middle of the week?” As soon as I asked, my mind went to mum and I thought she might be feeling down again, but before dad even spoke, his expression assured me that wasn’t the case.
“I thought it’d be nice to be here when you got home. It’s no every day your lassie comes back from the Middle East.”
“That’s very true,” I said, as dad opened the door.
Tini shot into the kitchen and mum was halfway down the stairs, wrapped in her pink dressing gown. “Oh, this is a nice surprise,” she said, with a big smile.” “We were expecting you much later.”
“Short flight time,” I said.
“Happy birthday, hen,” mum said, hugging me on the bottom step. “Oh, you smell lovely.”
“Eternity, by Calvin Klein,” I said, mimicking the voice in the tv advertisement. “I’m glad you like it, I got you one too.”
“Smashing. So, how was Arabia? Did you get the papers, Tom?”
“Yes, your majesty,” dad said, passing the newspapers to mum then hanging up his coat on the hooks under the stairs.
“It’s Saudi Arabia, mum.” I said, following her into the kitchen.
“Was it hot?” mum asked, as she sat down. “Put the kettle on please, Tom.”
“Geez a wee minute Liz,” dad said, rolling his eyes in a mocking way that made me laugh.
“It was absolutely sweltering,” I said. “The hottest place I’ve ever been. Too much really.”
“Not for mum,” dad said, filling the kettle with water. “Right Lizzie?”
“Aye I’d like the heat but you cannae have a wee drink there.”
“No alcohol. It’s totally dry,” I said.
“To hell wi that!” mum said, laughing.
“I’ll make breakfast,” dad said. “Karen, you pick.”
“Do we have cheese and mushrooms?” I asked.
Dad looked at mum. “Aye, we do,” she said, nodding her head.
“D’ye want a wee cheese and mushroom omelette?” dad asked.
“Yes please. And tea and toast.”
“Oh aye,” dad said, disappearing behind the fridge door, “there’ll be plenty of tea and toast.”
The three of us remained at the kitchen table (with Tini underneath) long after we’d eaten. Both mum and dad asked lots of questions about Jeddah and what it was like being in a place they’ll probably never visit. It was difficult to explain all I’d seen and experienced in such a short space of time but the more I spoke, the more I realized how much we take for granted living where we do.
I rang Ben several times tonight but there was no reply. I can’t wait to tell him all about Jeddah, even although I already put most of it in a letter to him, but who knows how long it takes for post to reach Italy from Saudi Arabia.